China can't take PH assets under loan deals: finance official

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 08 2019 12:53 PM | Updated as of Mar 08 2019 01:14 PM

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MANILA – There is no guarantee that the Philippines will give China anything under a $69-million loan for an irrigation project, a finance official said Friday, deflecting criticism of the deal.

Public assets such as roads, bridges and other infrastructure cannot be used as "any sort of payment" in case of failure to comply with the borrowing terms.

"Wala po tayong provision na may garantiya sila na may ibibigay tayo sa kanila na kahit ano," Finance Assistant Secretary Tony Lambino said. 

(There is no provision, no guarantee that we will give them anything.)

A provision on "patrimonial assets" is only meant to differentiate state-owned assets from those that are for public use.

"Para ho malinaw at hindi pwedeng galawin ang mga bagay na ginagamit at may pakinabang ang ating mamayan," he said.

(So that it's clear, those that are used by the public can't be touched.)

In November, the Bangko Sentral Governor Benjamin Diokno said no properties were mortgaged as part of loan agreements with China.

The Chinese loan agreement for the Chico River Pump Irrigation accounts for 0.0043 percent of the country’s total debt, Lambino said. 

By 2022, the total project debt to China will be around 4.5 percent of the country’s total debt, while Japan will be “double” that, he said.