China says ready to help PH with infra, touts ‘quality and speed’

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 17 2022 11:12 PM

Train

MANILA - The Chinese embassy in Manila on Sunday said the Asian giant is ready to help the Philippines with its infrastructure push days after a Transport official said several China-backed railway projects had remained unfunded. 

In a statement, the embassy said “China has comprehensive strength and is well-known for its quality and speed.”

“China will tap its own advantage and support the Philippines to improve its infrastructure,” the embassy said. 

This comes days after Undersecretary Cesar Chavez of the Department of Transportation, said the Laguna-Bicol, Subic-Clark, and Mindanao Railway projects, which were all backed by China, were stalled because China had yet to respond to the Philippines' request for funding.
 
Chavez said President Ferdinand Marcos Jr had also ordered them to renegotiate the deals. 

The embassy meanwhile said China was “open for technical discussions” on government-to-government projects, and was ready to work with the Philippines’ new administration.

It also said that 17 projects in total have been completed, and more than 20 projects were “under implementation or in progress.”

The embassy said the COVID-19 pandemic had affected the implementation of projects over the past 2 years “hindering the site availability, causing delays of procurement, affecting goods mobility, and so on.”

Meanwhile, House Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez urged the Marcos administration to drop Chinese financing for three railway projects.

“We have other funding options, which the new national leadership should explore,” Rodriguez said naming Japan and several multilateral institutions as possible sources of funding.

He also said China’s loans will have “strings attached” which may compromise the Philippines’ claims in the West Philippine Sea. 

Senator Grace Poe meanwhile said Marcos’ directive to negotiate the infra deals should iron out issues that saddled the previous agreements, including interest rates and payment terms.

“The need to boost our infrastructure should not compromise the best interest of our country,” Poe said. 

The unfunded railway projects by China stood in contrast to the projects funded by Japan and the Asian Development Bank.

The Metro Manila Subway, South Commuter Railway, and Malolos-Clark Railway have all broken ground with construction ongoing.