DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) here denounced President Rodrigo Duterte for shamelessly bowing down to China as Prime Minister Xi Jinping visits the country to sign agreement on infrastructure including the joint oil and gas exploration between the Philippines and China in the disputed West Philippine Sea.
The group viewed Xi Jinping’s visit in the Philippines as an “insult to the Filipinos and the country’s sovereignty,” noting that the growing relationship of the Duterte administration to China would only push the Philippines to further exploitation.
On Tuesday, Xi Jinping received a red-carpet welcome in Malacañang, the first state visit to the Philippines of a Chinese president in 13 years.
Both head of states witnessed the exchange and signing of 29 bilateral agreements between the two countries that include oil and gas development, infrastructure, culture, education, among others.
But Bayan claimed that Filipinos will be burdened by loans with huge interests offered by China to fund the Duterte administration’s “grandiose” Build! Build! Build! infrastructure program.
The militants pointed out that the government’s program includes the construction of “mining highway” that would destroy the Pantaron Mountain Range, covering the provinces of Bukidnon, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Misamis Oriental, Agusan del Norte, and Agusan del Sur, where one of the largest remaining virgin forests in the Philippines is located.
Bayan said that only by genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization will the Philippine truly develop as a country and not by the help of neither the US nor China.
“This will only happen by pulling out from the dictate of imperialist countries, and get rid of unfair trade agreements,” the group said.
Duterte is also placing the country to peril amid the growing conflict between China and the United States, which considered itself as a “traditional ally” of the Philippines, according to Bayan.
Independent think tank Ibon Foundation, on the other hand, warned about China’s official development assistance (ODA) loans for infrastructure projects of the Philippine government.
“The government needs P8.4 trillion pesos to bankroll the Build! Build! Build! and is apparently counting on China to provide a substantial amount of this,” the group said. “Filipinos should be particularly wary of the onerous conditions China imposes, which could result in the Philippines virtually giving up its sovereignty.”
“For instance, China ODA has been known to stipulate the collateralization of resources and state assets should a country default on its loan payments,” Ibon added. “The Sri Lankan government, for instance, was forced to lease its strategic Hambantota Port for 99 years to a Chinese company when it was unable to pay back its debt to China.”
The group also noted that another “lopsided condition terms of reference in China loans that require the agreement, as well as the rights and obligations of both parties, be put beyond the scope of Philippine laws and transparency in the public domain.”
“China apparently prefers disputes to be settled at the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC).”
These conditions are included in the Chico River Pump Irrigation loan agreement, according to Ibon.The group also expressed concern on Duterte administration’s willingness to give up its territorial resources in the South China Sea to secure China investments and loans.
“In line with this is the administration’s efforts to be a part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which supposedly gives access to coveted infrastructure investments. In exchange, the Philippines has been easing the way for China’s interests in the disputed waters.” (davaotoday.com)