MANILA - Chinese businessmen on Thursday gave Manila Mayor Isko Moreno P20 million for the rehabilitation of a bridge near a heritage site along the Pasig River.
Moreno did not disclose the exact location of the project but said that it might be completed by December.
The project is part of the current administration’s push to preserve Manila’s heritage and open more tourist destinations in the capital city.
“Protecting heritage builds tourism. Tourism builds jobs and business,” he said.
If people have jobs, it will deter crimes and make the streets safer, he said.
The Public Welfare Charity Foundation, the charity arm of the Philippine Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, gave the cheque to Moreno days after the mayor asked for funding from the private sector.
Aside from Moreno’s project, the Chinese also funded the construction of 2 other bridges in Metro Manila.
The 734-meter Binondo-Intramuros Bridge will connect the two historic Manila districts of Binondo and Intramuros, while the 506-meter Estrella-Pantaleon bridge will replace the existing bridge connecting Estrella Street in Makati City and Barangka Drive in Mandaluyong City.
Five other bridges will be constructed through “soft loans” from China, said Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua who paid a courtesy visit on Moreno minutes before the P20-million check was given to the mayor.
The mayor dismissed talk that special treatment would be extended to the Chinese community in exchange for their generosity and donations to the city.
“Wala [special favors]. Laway-laway lang. Makapal lang mukha ko manghingi,” Moreno told reporters.
“I will not allow foreign investors to be abused and at the same time, I will not allow foreign investors to abuse us,” he said. “They have to follow our rules.”
Tensions that stem from disputes in the West Philippine Sea and the proliferation of Chinese workers in online gambling hubs in the country “does not concern Manila,” Moreno said.
“It doesn’t concern Manila. I will let the national government handle it,” he said.
“If they (Chinese) do business in Manila, they should be protected the same way other businesses are protected,” he said.