Trade chief defends deals with blacklisted Chinese firms


Posted at Nov 02 2016 11:27 AM

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (R) is shown the way by Chinese President Xi Jinping before a signing ceremony held in Beijing, China, October 20, 2016. Ng Han Guan, Reuters

MANILA - The government sees no problem with having Chinese firms linked to corruption explore possible investments in the Philippines, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said Wednesday.

The companies were recommended by the Chinese government and they could work on the lifting of a ban, imposed by the World Bank, that prevents them from doing business in the Philippines, Lopez said.

"Kung sa studies [If it's just studies] I don’t see any problem with that. These are proposals pa lang e [These are just proposals], so let’s not dwell on that, if I may suggest, and just really see what they can offer," Lopez said in an interview with ANC's Headstart.

Duterte secured $24 billion in investment pledges following a four-day state visit to China earlier this month, as he sought to repair ties that were strained by disputes in the South China Sea.

These include agreements with China Road and Bridge Corp., which was barred by the World Bank for alleged bid rigging and China CAMC Engineering, an affiliate of Sinomach, the contractor of the alleged anomalous North Rail project.

"They may be banned now, but they may not be banned in the future. May mga requirements lang sila that they have to comply with [They just have to comply with some requirements]" Lopez said Wednesday.

The investment pledges are a "show of confidence" by Beijing on the new government of President Rodrigo Duterte, Lopez said.

"What’s also being shown here is the kind of friendship that is being renewed is backed up by real good intentions from our counterpart—whether it’s public or private companies," he said.