Davao City, November 18, 2021 – The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) XI conducted its first-ever face-to-face meeting with Officials and staff of the Japan International Cooperation Office (JICA), led by its Chief Representative Mr. Azukizawa Eigo, for initial talks on the proposed Comprehensive and Sustainable Urban Development Master Plan for a Smart Metropolitan Davao, as well as be apprised on the progress of various JICA-assisted projects in Davao Region implemented under the Davao City Infrastructure Development Plan and Capacity Building Project (IM4Davao) project. The members of the Metropolitan Davao Development Coordinating Committee (MDDCC) joined the meeting through the virtual platform.

(L-R): JICA Senior Official Mr. Kuronuma Kenji, JICA Chief Representative Mr. Azukizawa Eigo, NEDA XI RD Maria Lourdes D. Lim, and NEDA XI ARD Gilberto A. Altura

At the onset, JICA Chief Representative Mr. Azukizawa appreciated the conduct of the initial meeting and informed that the proposal for the said Metro Davao Master Plan has been received and currently being reviewed by the JICA Headquarters in Tokyo. On the other hand, NEDA XI Regional Director Maria Lourdes D. Lim conveyed appreciation for the opportunity to consult JICA on priority projects for Metropolitan Davao and echoed the guidance from NEDA Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua that public investments on infrastructure development should be anchored on Master Plans. She expressed optimism that the institutionalization of Metropolitan Davao shall be reinforced, with the anticipated Congressional approval of the Bill on the creation of the Metropolitan Davao Development Authority (MDDA) within the term of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

The first-ever face-to-face meeting between NEDA XI and JICA Officials with the members of the MDDCC joining in the discussions virtually.

NEDA XI presented the salient features of the proposed Metropolitan Davao Master Plan, as well as the updates on the implementation of IM4Davao Projects and the ongoing cooperation for the Project for Master Plan and Feasibility Study on Flood Control and Drainage in Davao City. Of the total 29 IM4Davao projects, 3 were completed (e.g Abaca Processing Center, the Philippine-Japan Historical Museum and the Davao City Food Terminal Complex), 11 ongoing, 1 suspended, 7 not yet started and 7 for verification. Relatedly, the Project for Master Plan and Feasibility Study on Flood Control and Drainage in Davao City was highlighted where the date of project completion was moved to May 2022, from October 2021 due to the pandemic. The worsening flood incidents experienced by Davao City in the past years prompted the Infrastructure Development Committee (IDC) of the Regional Development Council (RDC XI) to pass a Resolution enjoining DPWH-UPMO and the JICA to accelerate the completion of the said study by 1st or 2nd Quarter of CY 2022.

Mr. Azukizawa commended the efforts of the Davao City Government, in collaboration with NEDA XI, and the RDC XI for the successful implementation of the IM4Davao projects. He expressed optimism that the Master Plan for Metro Davao shall be implemented, following the good track record of the IM4Davao projects. For the Flood Control Master Plan, Mr. Azukizawa further explained that JICA has attempted to dispatch a Team of Experts to Davao but encountered some challenges because of the pandemic. However, he committed to dispatch a Team to Davao in the early part of 2022 to expedite the study. On the other hand, Mr. Kuronuma inquired on the implication of the Mandanas Ruling on future master planning activities. Dir. Lim responded that with the additional resources of LGUs and a clear delineation of responsibilities stipulated under Executive Order No. 138 on the devolution of some functions of national government agencies to LGUs, the partnership between the national government and LGUs shall be facilitated and reinforced, particularly in a metropolitan arrangement.

Relatedly, Director Lim mentioned the site inspection done by the Regional Project Monitoring Team XI on the progress of the Davao City Bypass Road Project. Mr. Azukizawa requested for the support of the LGUs in facilitating land acquisition to address the road right- of-way issue.

In closing, Mr. Azukizawa reiterated that once the proposed Metro Davao Master Plan is approved by JICA, preparatory activities shall commence. A project mission team shall be dispatched to Davao to consolidate the details of the project and fine-tune the Terms of Reference (TOR) with NEDA XI, the concerned LGUs and other stakeholders. – Alana O. San Pedro, NEDA XI