Philippines eyes 5 deals with China in upcoming Duterte trip

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 22 2019 03:17 PM

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and People's Republic of China President Xi Jinping pose for a photo following a successful bilateral meeting at the Boao State Guesthouse on April 10, 2018. Ace Morandante, Malacanang Photo/file

MANILA - The Philippines and China might sign up to 5 bilateral deals when President Rodrigo Duterte visits Beijing later this week.

Foreign Affairs Asec. Meynardo Montealegre said the agreements cover the areas of education, anti-corruption, official development assistance, and drug rehabilitation.

"It's in the final stages of consultations," Montealegre told reporters in Malacañang on Monday.

Duterte is set to visit China for the 4th time from April 25 to 27 for the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.

Duterte first set foot in China as president in a state visit in October 2016. This was followed by his attendance to the Belt and Road Forum in May 2017 and the Boao Forum in April 2018.

The Philippine leader is also scheduled to hold bilateral talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.

“They (Duterte and Xi) are expected of course to chart the course of further development of bilateral relations in various areas like defense, security, economics, and development as well as regional and international issues of mutual importance,” Montealegre said.

Duterte is also one of the lead speakers at the Leaders’ Roundtable during the forum which will be joined by 39 other heads of states, Montealegre said.

“The main outcome document is a joint communiqué of the Leaders’ Roundtable of the Second Belt and Road Forum and this is currently being negotiated among the participating countries,” he added.

Duterte has sought closer ties with China even as the Philippines has yet to resolve its disputes with Asia’s largest economy over the South China Sea.

China has refused to recognize a 2016 ruling of a United Nations-backed panel that invalidated its assertion of sovereignty over the waters in response to a Philippine plea.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier said President Duterte might raise the arbitral ruling during his China trip.