THE PHILIPPINES has made a fresh bid for Chinese grants for studies on planned inter-island bridges as well as Mindanao’s first railway, the Department of Finance (DoF) announced in a statement on Friday.
The department said it has submitted a list of 12 big-ticket infrastructure projects to the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA), as Manila seeks the aid agency’s help in conducting feasibility studies.
The statement quoted Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III as saying that members of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s economic team made the pitch to CIDCA chairman Wang Xiaotao for additional grants from Beijing, in line with the Philippines’ aggressive infrastructure push.
The projects proposed for CIDCA financing are the future phases of the Mindanao Railway Project; Ipo Dam No. 3 in Norzagaray, Bulacan; Port Irene Development-Navigational Channel in Cagayan; Cabadbaran Small Reservoir Irrigation Project in Agusan del Norte; the River Basin and Watershed Management Project in Camarines Sur; the Luzon-Samar (Matnog-Alen) Bridge; Dinagat (Leyte)-Surigao Link Bridge; Camarines Sur-Catanduanes Friendship Bridge; development of the Luzon Eastern Seaboard; Bohol-Leyte Link Bridge; Cebu-Bohol Link Bridge and the Negros-Cebu Link Bridge.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia presented the proposed list to CIDCA during the group’s Aug. 22-24 visit to Beijing.
“These projects are selected considering geographic spread, the size of the investment requirement and the Duterte administration’s focus on connectivity, rural development and disaster prevention, among other considerations,” Mr. Pernia was quoted as saying.
The Philippine team is the first high-level delegation received by CIDCA since the agency was established in April, the statement quoted Mr. Wang as saying.
Mr. Dominguez suggested that CIDCA assign a “portfolio officer” to monitor and coordinate on Philippine projects.
During the same visit, CIDCA’s Mr. Wang and Public Works Secretary Mark A. Villar also signed a $13.4-million grant for the feasibility study of the Panay-Guimaras-Negros bridge project in the Visayas.
Following the meeting with CIDCA, the Philippine delegation also met with Export-Import Bank of China chairperson Hu Xiaolin to discuss loan financing and co-financing arrangements for the Philippines’ infrastructure projects, DoF added.
The Philippines previously sealed the first loan agreement for a partial P3.69-billion funding of the P4.37-billion Chico River Pump Irrigation Project in northern Luzon with an interest rate of two percent per annum and a 20-year maturity period, inclusive of a seven-year grace period.
China had also approved a P4.13-billion grant for the construction of the Binondo-Intramuros and Estrella-Pantaleon bridges, a feasibility study for the Davao City Expressway Project, provision of radio and broadcasting equipment to the Presidential Communications Operations Office and the third phase of the Philippine-Sino Center for Agricultural Technology-Technical Cooperation Program.
In 2016, Mr. Duterte secured a pledge for $9 billion worth of official development assistance from Chinese President Xi Jinping as the former moved the Philippines closer to its Northeast Asian neighbor. — Melissa Luz T. Lopez