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Makabayan calls for Chinese deal terms to be published

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Xi Jinping
REUTERS

THE MAKABAYAN bloc of Congress said Thursday that the government must disclose loan agreements the Philippine government entered into with China.

“We have signed many agreements. It’s important to be transparent and make public the terms to Congress and the public,” Act Teachers Rep. Antonio L. Tinio said in a briefing on Thursday.

The opposition legislators filed House Resolution No. 2336, asking Congress to demand the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Energy and the National Economic Development Authority to explain the provisions of the agreements.

The resolution identified 29 agreements, signed on Nov. 20, during the state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping. They singled out the memorandum of understanding on cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative and cooperation on oil and gas development between the Philippines and China.

“We filed a resolution asking for the terms of the agreements to be shared with Congress and the public,” Mr. Tinio said.

He added that the resolution is “sleeping” with the Committee on Rules.

Mr. Tinio and IBON Foundation Executive director Sonny A. Africa said the agreements may contain provisions disadvantageous to the country.

The IBON Foundation cited the P4.3 billion Chico River Pump Irrigation Project, under the “Build, Build, Build” program, alleging that the loan agreement carried “onerous terms.”

The research group said in a statement the Article 8.4 of the Chico loan agreement “stipulates that the loan will be ‘governed and construed in accordance with the laws of China’ but without similar explicit mention of Philippine Law.”

“The bottom line is that the Philippines did not insist on its own sovereignty in case of a dispute. Instead of equality, the agreement was tilted towards Chinese law,” Mr. Africa said, noting that such agreement might serve as a “template” for other agreements. — Charmaine A. Tadalan