MANILA - Flags of the People’s Republic of China were flown alongside the Philippine flags outside the Plenary Hall of the House of Representatives in Quezon City Monday, catching the attention of the House media.
The flying of the flags were for the visit of a high ranking official of the Chinese Communist Party to Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Director Edith Cardenas of the Inter-Parliamentary Relations and Special Affairs Bureau said it is normal for the Philippine government to accord honor to high-ranking foreign dignitaries like the Vice Chair of the National People's Congress.
Philippine government officials also receive similar treatment when they visit foreign countries, she said.
Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe, however, believes it was the first time a foreign visitor’s flag was flown at the House on the occasion of a foreign official's visit.
"Sa pagkakaalam ko siguro una 'yan. Siguro sa susunod dapat di lang po Chinese flag. Kung sino bisita natin dito sa Kongreso ay dapat gawin para di magsabi nagbibigay ng special attention sa China. I do hope pag may bisita sa ibang bansa gawin din po nila," the lawmaker said.
Pictures from Arroyo’s office showed Ji Bingxua, Vice Chairman of the National People's Congress, making a courtesy call on the office of Mrs. Arroyo. Other members of the delegation include Hon. Liao Xiaojun, NPC Standing Committee Member and Vice Chairman of NPC Agriculture and Rural Committee; Hon. Cong Bin, NPC Standing Committee member and Vice Chairman of the NPC Constitution and Law Commitee and Hon. Lu Peijun, NPC Standing Committee member and Vice Chairman of the NPC Foreign Affairs Committee.
Deputy Speaker Arthur Yap represented the Speaker during the meeting where they discussed the further strengthening of relations of the Philippines and China particularly in the fields of agriculture, trade, infrastructure, education, and culture and the arts.
As president, Arroyo is known to have cultivated good relations with China but at the same time, it also led to some of the biggest corruption scandals to hound her presidency, like the ZTE broadband deal and Northrail.
The visit comes days after Arroyo visited China for the China-ASEAN Mayors' Forum 2018, which gathered more than 300 mayors, experts and scholars from China and ASEAN countries to carry out multi-level investment exchanges to improve trade and other bilateral relations.
In her keynote speech, Arroyo urged China to be be a big uncle to the ASEAN and called for more joint projects with Beijing.
"Nothing builds mutual trust and respect better than having actual projects that can be worked on jointly. The bonds of such mutual trust and respect are deepest when they are borne and nurtured on the ground level and that is to say at the level of local government to local government, mayor to mayor," she said.