MANILA - Activist group Akbayan on Monday again urged government to disclose and audit all Chinese loans as the country's top diplomat proposed the termination of Manila's contracts with Beijing firms involved in West Philippine Sea reclamation activities.
At least 2 lawmakers earlier backed the recommendation of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., a move similar to the US' imposition of sanctions on 24 state-owned Chinese companies for taking part in building artificial islands in the disputed waters.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said the move should also include Chinese companies involved in onerous deals that would "only bury the country to a debt quicksand."
"To fully protect our national interest, a comprehensive debt audit of all Chinese loans is necessary to determine if these loan agreements are legitimate, don't carry unjust conditionalities that could undermine our country's sovereignty, territory, economy and security, and not the result of questionable transactions," Akbayan Chair Etta Rosales said.
Rosales, a former Akbayan Partylist Representative and head of the Commission on Human Rights, urged President Rodrigo Duterte to make public Chinese loan contracts and other documents surrounding these agreements.
"How many of these loans are connected to Mr. Duterte's friends and allies? Were these loans given with the condition that we will not enforce against China our victory in the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal? Are these loans in accordance with international standards?" she said.
"Anumang utang na ang ating soberenya, teritoryo, seguridad at ekonomiya ang kabayaran ay hindi dapat kilalanin at bayaran. Hindi ito magiging sulit o katanggap-tanggap kailanman."
(Any loans that asks for our sovereignty, territory, security and economy as payment should not be recognized. It's never going to be acceptable.)
Duterte last year ordered a review of all government contracts following concerns that the country might fall into a "debt trap" with China.