After rebuking China on August 23 regarding its apparent plan of solo exploration of the oil deposits in the disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea instead of joint exploration is now singing a different song. President Rodrigo Duterte shifted gears and wanted China government to hasten all its China funded projects.
Duterte lashed out at China and asked to respect the Philippines’ rights over the Spratly Islands and other contested areas in the area which have other claimants too apart from Philippines, and these are Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan and Brunei.
Read related story: Duterte tells China, do not empty our oil in WPS
While Duterte expressed his disapproval on China’s move on the West Philippine Sea to go solo in the oil exploration, and even told that it would result in a war and will be a bloody one if China insists what it wants, he sent Department of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III to Beijing, China to discuss with the Chinese government on how their China grant funded projects can be rolled out quickly specifically, the two major railways in Luzon.
For many observers, this move (shifting gears) from Duterte was not a smart move, because rather being in firm on the issue about our claims on Spratly Islands which in diplomatic lingo as “faux pas”.
A high military source of THEPHILBIZNEWS who asked not to be named for lack of authority to speak on the issue said, “The Philippines just lost our bargaining chip against China in this move. China knows that Duterte is just bluffing about warring with China on the issue about the Spratly.
He went on, “Come to think of it, on the issue of our fishermen who were harassed in our own territory and their catch was even confiscated, did anyone of them file a diplomatic protest? Worst, Harry Roque even said our Filipino fishermen are okay with what happened, and they even had a “coached presscon” (referring to the press conference sponsored by Malacañang through its Spokesman Roque). Did they even bother to listen in the interview done by GMA News TV about how our fishermen felt and how they were treated?”, our source added.
The long and short of it, “Isa lang gusto ng Presidente natin sa China, pera and no doubt China can give that. Pero the President must also be wary on what China dangles on his face. Isipin nya na China won’t give something without anything in return. Mas masahol pa sa mga Amerikano yan. For some of us senior military officers whose loyalty is to the flag and to the Filipino people, all we want is fair treatment to our fellow Filipinos by the Chinese especially those who cannot protect themselves. Pero anong nangyari, inaapi tayo sa sarili nating bayan?” he said in closing.
For his part, Secretary Dominguez explained his trip to Beijing with other cabinet members.
Dominguez said, he is working on projects to be implemented by the Philippines in cooperation with China to be fast. “We have already been moving quite fast ahead. Our visit to Beijing was extremely productive. We are confident we can henceforth move forward at a faster pace on the projects we are implementing in cooperation with China”, he added.
The Finance Chief led the Philippine delegation composed of Cabinet secretaries for high-level meetings with Chinese officials from Aug. 22-24.
In a statement sent on Friday, Dominguez said Manila has affirmed its commitment to fast-track the implementation of projects funded via official development assistance before China’s State Councilor and Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi.
To be specific, the projects South Long Haul Manila-Bicol Railway and the Clark-Subic Railway have been moving fast, according to the thrust of the Philippine government’s push to accelerate infrastructure spending.
The loan has been signed for the P4.37-billion Chico River Pump Irrigation Project, with an interest rate of two percent per annum with a maturity period of 20 years with a seven-year grace period. Work on the project started last month as carried out by China CAMC Engineering Co. Ltd.Another P4.13-billion grant has also been forged between Manila and Beijing for the Binondo-Intramuros and Estrella-Pantaleon bridges which are now under construction.
The officials from the two countries met to discuss progress on the set of China-funded projects. Included in the “first basket” of projects up for funding are the New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project, and the Davao-Samal Bridge Construction Project. The “second basket” project on public works to be financed by China loans are the Ambal-Simuay River and Rio Grande de Mindanao River Flood Control Projects, Pasig-Marikina River and Manggahan Flood way Bridges Construction Project, Safe Philippines Project Phase 1, and the Rehabilitation of the Agus-Pulangi Hydroelectric Power Plants Project.
Chinese money will also fund the Davao City Expressway Project, the provision of radio and broadcasting equipment to the Presidential Communications Operations Office, and the Philippine-Sino Center for Agricultural Technology-Technical Cooperation Program Phase 3.
Dominguez said that the two countries relationship has grown “very close” since the Duterte administration reopened the Philippines’ door with China, which was also confirmed by Beijing’s Minister Wang.