Duterte told to divulge details of China deals

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AN OPPOSITION senator yesterday asked the presidential palace to disclose details of the agreements signed between the Philippines and China during President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s recent visit to Beijing.

“It’s our territory and it’s our natural resources,” Senator Francis N. Pangilinan said in a statement. “The Filipino people have all the right to be informed and know the details.”
Mr. Duterte met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in China last week, where six bilateral agreements on education and science and technology among other things, were signed.

These include a $219-million loan agreement to fund the construction of the Philippine National Railways south long-haul project. The project was among the 75 flagship infrastructure projects under the administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program linking Metro Manila to provinces in the Bicol region.

Presidential spokesman Salvador S. Panelo also said other agreements signed by the Philippines and China included “cooperative measures and assistance in the key areas of education, science and technology, and economic growth.”

The meeting also resulted in the creation of a steering committee for joint exploration in the South China Sea, despite China’s rejection of a United Nations arbitral ruling in 2016 voiding China’s claim to more than 80% of the main waterway.

“Remember we have the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on our side and the permanent court of arbitration ruling that recognized the Philippines’ sovereign rights to fish and explore for resources in the West Philippine Sea,” Mr. Pangilinan said, referring to areas of the South China Sea within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

“The Filipino people should know the contents of the agreement,” Mr. Pangilinan said. “They will say whether this is good for us or disadvantageous to us.”

He also said Malacañang should avoid agreements that will “diminish” the Philippines’ exclusive rights to explore and develop its natural resources.

Mr. Duterte earlier said he favors a 60-40 share in favor of the Philippines in the planned joint exploration.

Meanwhile, the Communist Party of the Philippines criticized Mr. Duterte for bowing down to China and surrender the country’s sovereign rights in the South China Sea.

The president “merely went through the motions” of bringing up the decision of the UN court during his meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Communist Party founder Jose Maria C. Sison said in a statement on the group’s website.

“In the end, it was a purposeless exercise,” Mr. Sison furthered. “There was no further discussion on the matter. Duterte merely acquiesced to Xi Jinping when the superpower president reiterated that China does not recognize the ruling.”

Mr. Sison said the proposed joint exploration of natural resources in the South China Sea favors China. “With control of capital and the technological and industrial means, China will surely be able to take full control of the oil drilling operations to the detriment of the Philippines.”

Mr. Panelo shrugged off Mr. Sison’s remarks. Mr. Duterte “has no time to waste in responding to the latest anti-Duterte statement of Jose Maria Sison, other than saying that it is another arrant raving and incorrigible ranting coming from an aging armchair passé rebel whose illusory vision has outsprinted the ticking hands of time,” he said in a statement.

Duterte told to divulge details of China deals

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