MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte has placed safeguards against corruption in dealings with Chinese companies to prevent a repeat of past controversies, one of his economic managers said Thursday.
The National Economic Development Authority has designated its Investment Coordinating Committee as a "clearing house" to oversee the deals and Manila is urging Beijing to designate a counterpart agency, Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said.
Pernia cited two deals struck by former president Gloria Arroyo's government with China that were tainted by allegations of corruption, the proposed $329 million national broadband project with ZTE Corp. and the Manila to Clark Northrail with China National Machinery and Equipment Group.
"We are putting up safeguards na hindi maulit yung NBN-ZTE debacle, at saka yung Northrail," Pernia told reporters.
(We are putting safeguards to prevent a repeat of the NBN-ZTE debacle as well as Northrail)
"On the side of China, they have also agreed to setup mechanisms whereby they will screen and accredit reputable Chinese companies that will be qualified to deal with us, to participate in investment projects," he added.
A lawmaker has raised concern over Philippine companies decision to partner with some Chinese companies that have been blacklisted by the World Bank for alleged corruption.
The partnerships were forged during Duterte's four-day state visit to China earlier this month, which signaled a thaw in relationships that have been strained by disputes in the South China Sea.
The deals will be reviewed before they are implemented, Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) President and Chief Executive Officer Vince Dizon told ANC's "Headstart"
"We are just at step one. In order for a project to become a reality, we need to go through step one, which is the feasibility study, which is where we’re at now," he said.
The feasibility study, which could take up to six months, will be at "no cost at all for the Filipino taxpayer," he said.