MANILA - It is "only natural" for China to get an advantage in its Chico River irrigation loan agreement with the Philippines, Malacañang said Monday, addressing a Supreme Court justice's warning that the deal favors Beijing.
SC Associate Justice Antonio Carpio over the weekend warned that Beijing could seize oil and gas-rich Philippine assets in the South China Sea if the country reneged on payment for the $62 million loan.
"Bakit, 'pag nag-uutang tayo, meron ba tayong say? When you [take a] loan from the bank, it's always the terms of the bank. Natural lang iyun na they will make sure na hindi sila malulugi sa kanilang ipinautang sa atin," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo told reporters.
(It's only natural that they will make sure that they won't lose from the loan they extended to us.)
"You cannot also blame the lender if they will impose certain terms na pabor sa kanila (that favors them)," he added.
Panelo also stressed that Manila has never defaulted on any loan agreement so the possibility of Beijing taking its assets "will never happen."
"It's not a possibility kasi we will never naman renege. Kaya sila (economic managers) pumasok d'yan kasi alam nila na hindi mangyayari," he said.
(They entered that agreement because they know that it won't happen.)
"It will never happen kasi nga we always pay saka ang liit lang naman (it's just a small amount)," he added.
Government officials have maintained the loan agreement for the Chico River project is not a debt trap and was properly screened by the Investment Coordination Committee composed of key Cabinet members.