VP Robredo calls for transparency in PH-China deals

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 21 2018 11:34 AM

China's President Xi Jinping and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte toast during a State Banquet at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila, Philippines, November 20, 2018. Mark Cristino/Pool via Reuters

MANILA - Vice President Leni Robredo called on the Duterte administration to be transparent regarding the bilateral agreements it signed with China during Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit.

In a statement, Robredo said Filipinos deserve to be informed on how these deals with China will benefit the country and serve the national interest.

"These documents signed during the State Visit of President Xi Jinping will affect the everyday lives of each Filipino, not only under this administration, but for years to come," she said.

The Philippines and China signed 29 deals on Monday, including a memorandum of understanding on oil and gas in the resource-rich but disputed South China Sea.

Other agreements include cooperation on China's Belt and Road Initiative, cooperation on infrastructure programs, and cooperation on industrial parks development, among others.

Robredo stressed that while friendship with China is welcome, it must not compromise the country's sovereignty, particularly on the West Philippine Sea.

"We welcome the friendship of the People’s Republic of China. But this friendship should not come at the expense of the interests of our people and our nation," she said.

"Other than transparency on the bilateral agreements, we urge the administration to stand firm and exert all diplomatic means to assert our sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea," she added.

An analyst earlier warned the Philippine government to be smart in dealing with China to avoid falling for the so-called "debt trap."

This echoes the warning of US Vice President Mike Pence's allegations that loans from China come with strings attached and build up "staggering debt" for poorer countries.

China and the Philippines have seen warmer ties since Duterte assumed office in 2016 and prioritized pursuing the economic aspect of the relationship instead of the maritime dispute.