The Daily Manila Shimbun


Philippines submits 40 ‘small, large’ projects for China financing, feasibility studies

January 25, 2017

BEIJING—A Philippine delegation led by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has submitted a total of 40 “large and small” infrastructure projects to China for possible loan financing and assistance in conducting feasibility studies, with more talks on details of these proposals to take place in Manila next month.
Dominguez said the meeting of the high-level Philippine team with officials of China’s Commerce Ministry was a “productive first step towards achieving the desire of (Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping)” in further reinforcing ties between the two countries."
Of the 40 projects, 15 are being proposed for loan financing while 25 were submitted for feasibility study support.
Aside from Dominguez, the Philippine delegation included  Secretaries Benjamin Diokno of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Arthur Tugade of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and Mark Villar of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH); and Director-General Ernesto Pernia of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
“It was a very positive and very productive meeting,” Dominguez said in an interview  with members of the Chinese media. “My expectation is that the projects that we have discussed would be implemented very quickly and that it would benefit both (the) people (of China and the Philippines).”
Three of the large-scale projects submitted for Chinese loan financing are meant to raise the productivity of small farmers, improve transportation and logistics services in underserved areas of Luzon and ensure a steady water supply to Metro Manila.
 These three projects, with a combined total of $3.4 billion, are the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project in the provinces of Cagayan and Kalinga with an estimated total project cost of $53.6 million; the New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project in Quezon, $374.03 million; and the South Line of the North-South Railway running from Manila to Legaspi City in Bicol, $3.01 billion.
Dominguez said the other projects are relatively small in scale, and are easier to implement, such as the construction of bridges across the Pasig River to ease traffic congestion in Metro Manila.
Dominguez said the generous assistance offered by China to the Philippines is among the concrete results of the President’s foreign policy rebalancing towards accelerated integration with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and its major Asian trading partners.
He said that amid global uncertainty over a possible overhaul of US trade policies under the new presidency of Donald Trump, it was a “very smart”  move by President Duterte  to recalibrate the Philippines’ foreign policy early on and reorient the economy toward greater integration with its Asian neighbors.
In the meeting with Minister Gao Hucheng of the Ministry of Commerce of the People's Republic of China, Dominguez informed Chinese officials about the Duterte administration’s three priority objectives, which are to reduce poverty, develop a law-abiding citizenry, and establish a society whose citizens are at peace among themselves and with their neighbors in the international community.
Dominguez said the 40 projects discussed during the meeting aim to help realize the president’s primary goal of reducing poverty.
The Philippines, he said, looks up to China in attaining this goal, citing the infrastructure buildup that the latter undertook in the 1980s and 1990s, which had helped it make remarkable progress in reducing poverty and inequality among its people.
On the last day of their two-day mission, the Philippine delegation was set to meet with officials of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), and China Investment Corp.
NEDA deputy director-general Rolando Tungpalan, DPWH Undersecretaries Emil Sadain and Karen Jimeno, and Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) president-CEO Vivencio Dizon were also part of the delegation.
Joining them were DOF Assistant Secretaries Ma. Edita Tan and Mark Dennis Joven, DOTr Assistant Secretaries Leah Merida Quiambao and Cesar Chavez, and Assistant Secretary Julia Nebrija of the Metro Manila Development Authority. DMS