MANILA – The partymates of President Rodrigo Duterte are set to meet with officials of the Communist Party of China this month, in yet another sign of the deepening ties between Manila and Beijing.
The January 22-25 visit was revealed after PDP-Laban member, former Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) chair Efraim Genuino, asked the Sandiganbayan’s Third Division to allow him to travel to Beijing.
In his motion for permission to travel, Genuino, who is facing separate graft and perjury charges, said the PDP-Laban delegation will be led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.
Genuino said the meeting with officials of the Communist Party of China aims to “deepen exchanges and cooperation, boost mutual trust and friendship for sound and stable progress in China-Philippines strategic and cooperative friendship for peace and development.”
He said he will be part of the official business trip in his capacity as chairman of the finance committee of the PDP-Laban.
Genuino, who has since posted bail for his cases, asked the anti-graft court to allow him to travel to Beijing from January 22 to 27 and Hong Kong from January 27 to 30.
The scheduled meeting between the PDP-Laban members and officials of China’s ruling party signifies President Duterte’s bid to forge closer ties with Beijing.
Duterte has turned to China in the face of criticisms from the Philippines’ long-time ally, the United States, over his bloody war on drugs.
In October, Duterte made a state visit to China, where he announced his “separation” from the United States.
Looking for economic gains for the Philippines, Duterte has also opted to “set aside” Manila’s legal victory against China over the South China Sea dispute.
A Hague-based tribunal in July 2016 ruled that China’s “nine-dash line” claim to the resource-rich sea is against the international law.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. also said earlier this week that Manila has no intention of raising Manila’s victory in an upcoming Southeast Asian regional summit where Chinese representatives will be present.
- With report from Carolyn Bonquin, ABS-CBN News