Arroyo defends PHL deals with China

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Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo -- PHILSTAR/MICHAEL VARCAS

By Charmaine A. Tadalan, Reporter

HOUSE Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said the Philippines’ cooperation with China should be seen as an opportunity, rather than a threat, amid doubts on the governments’ loan agreements.

“The Philippines actually has been investing in China for quite some time now because we have a very big Filipino-Chinese community, so I’m sure they can invest further in China. At the same time, China is also now investing more and more in the Philippines,” Ms. Arroyo told reporters on the sidelines of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference in Hainan, China on Thursday.

“So, this must be a win-win solution for the developing world. So what I can say is that China’s effort in opening up has really been a boost for the economies of the world, especially the developing economies. The world should look at China’s rise as an opportunity rather than a threat,” she also said.

The remarks followed scrutiny of the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project deal, signed on April 10, 2018, which was said to pledge Philippine “patrimonial assets” as collateral.

Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio last week said Article 8.1 of the P3.6-billion deal allows China to seize “Patrimonial assets and assets dedicated to commercial use,” should it fail to pay its loans.

The Makabayan bloc of the House of Representatives said it is set to file on April 3 a declaratory relief petition, asking the Supreme Court to order the recall of the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project deal over its unconstitutionality.

Ms. Arroyo maintained that the country’s bilateral relations with China should be further strengthened, and cited China’s role in Philippine trade and infrastructure development.

“For instance, China has built bridges in the Philippines, it is building a dam for a water system and irrigation, and it will be building a major railroad. Not just one but two major railroads. So those are some of the ways by which China has benefited the Philippines,” Ms. Arroyo said, referring to the Chico River Project, the New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam project, the Subic-Clark Railway Project in Luzon and Mindanao Railway Project.