Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has sought for full transparency on the 29 deals entered into between the Philippines and China during the first day of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s two-day state visit in the country.
De Lima, who chairs the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, underscored the need to make public all of these signed agreements to ensure that the best interest of the country and the people remains paramount.
“Considering that the interests of China are totally opposed to ours, especially in respect to the West Philippine Sea issue, the government should always follow the principles of transparency and accountability which require that the terms of any deals or loan agreement be subjected for extreme scrutiny to protect our country’s economy and national security,” she said.
“Alarmingly, Malacañang has not given the Filipino public a complete details about its Memorandum of Understanding with China aside from the number of deals signed and its title,” she added.
In response to Mr. Duterte’s invitation to him to visit the Philippines when they first met in Beijing in October 2016, Xi will be in Manila for a two-day state visit from Nov. 20 to 21.
Based on media reports, Xi and Duterte signed 29 deals last Nov. 20 including memorandum of understandings on oil and gas development and on cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative.
It may be recalled that Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno earlier revealed that Xi’s visit will “put pressure” in hastening the approval of China-financed infrastructure projects.
Notably, Xi’s visit comes after the group led by Davao-based businessman Dennis A. Uy and state-owned China Telecom Corp. Ltd. was declared as the provisional third telco player in the Philippines.
The Senator from Bicol said Duterte’s inclination to favor Chinese nationals has since posed serious concerns about his loyalty to serve the country and the Filipino people.
“As I’ve said before, Duterte’s lack of transparency on his dealings with his Chinese masters raises questions whether or not his loyalty belongs to China or the Philippines. We need to scrutinize if the President’s action vis-à-vis China really have a positive impact on the socio-economic development of the Philippines,” she said.
In November 2016, De Lima has filed Senate Resolution No. (SRN) 222 which seeks to inquire into the various investment deals entered into by the Duterte administration during the President’s State Visit to China in October 2016.
In May 16, 2017, she also filed SRN 377 urging the Senate to look into the possible onerous terms and long-term financial and economic repercussions of the multi-billion dollar loans and investments package offered by China to the Philippines under its belt and road initiative.
Last February, she again filed SRN 628 directing the appropriate Senate committee to investigate the complete terms and conditions of the loans entered into by the Philippine government to fund its “Build, Build, Build” Program to assess the possible impact of Chinese loans on our economy and national security.
De Lima also expressed concern over the administration’s obvious lack of transparency over the terms of Chinese loans to fund the infrastructure program especially because lenders, including China, pay around 2-7 percent finders’ fee for each agreement.