CEBU - Former President Benigno Aquino III has warned the government about China-offered loans, saying Philippines should have learned from the past.
“Hindi na tayo natuto sa Northrail. Hindi ba pwedeng maawa tayo sa sarili natin?” Aquino told reporters on the sidelines of an Otso Diretso forum in Cebu City,
(Haven't' we learned our lesson with Northrail [project]? Can't we have pity on ourselves?)
The North Rail project had originally been launched under former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's term with a $400-million Chinese state loan in 2004, but she later cancelled the project amid allegations her aides took kickbacks to get it started.
The 80-kilometer (50-mile) North Rail project would supposedly allow the country's main aviation gateway to be moved out of congested central Manila.
Aquino's statement came amid Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio's warning over the weekend that Beijing could seize oil and gas-rich Philippine assets in the South China Sea if the country reneged on payment for a new $62 million loan.
The loan agreement was signed by the government with China on April 10, 2018 but critics have warned of the allegedly onerous deal.
While in Cebu City, Aquino, campaigning for the candidates of Otso Diretso, said opposition candidates may be the “solution” to issues such as controversial Chinese loans.
The former president said the Otso Diretso, Romy Macalintal, Gary Alejano, Erin Tanada, Pilo Hilbay, Samira Gutoc, Mar Roxas, Bam Aquino, and Chel Diokno, are a better alternative, despite their dismal pre-election survey performance.
“Kung di ka na happy, magbibigay tayo ng solusyon. Sa akin, ang Otso Diretso, bahagi ng solusyon,” Aquino said.
(If you are no longer happy, let's find solutions. For me, Otso Diretso offers just that.)