As Manila pursues closer ties with Beijing, the mainland pledged about $7.34 billion for building infrastructure here, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.
In a statement Wednesday, the DOF said the grants as well as soft loans committed by China thus far would finance 10 big-ticket projects, including the reconstruction and rehabilitation of war-torn Marawi City.
Chinese money will also fund the construction of two bridges crossing the Pasig River in Metro Manila, as well as two drug rehabilitation facilities in Mindanao, according to the DOF.
“The unprecedented pledges of assistance from China that President Duterte had generated for the Philippines in 2017 make up the initial investment dividend from his prescient foreign-policy rebalancing toward Asia,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said.
“China is now among the Philippines’ closest allies, with the country delivering swiftly on its respective pledges of assistance to help fund the government’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ and Marawi reconstruction programs,” according to Dominguez.
During China Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to Manila on the sidelines of the 31st Asean Summit last November, Dominguez signed a financing cooperation agreement with the Export-Import Bank of China, which will cover 85 percent of the total contract amounts of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System’s New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam as well as the National Irrigation Administration’s Chico River Pump Irrigation Facility projects.
“China will provide soft loans estimated at $234.92 million for the Kaliwa Dam project and $72.49 million for the Chico River Pump Irrigation Facility project under the first basket of infrastructure projects presented by the Philippines for possible Chinese financing,” the DOF said, citing a report of its international finance group.
Also, Dominguez and China commerce vice minister and international trade representative Fu Ziying signed a 150-million renminbi (about $23-million) grant agreement for Marawi’s rehabilitation.
Dominguez and Fu also signed a memorandum of understanding “to jointly identify and study an indicative list consisting of the second basket of key infrastructure cooperation projects for possible Chinese financing,” which includes the Davao City expressway, Panay-Guimaras-Negros Inter-Island Bridge, as well as Subic-Clark Railway.
In general, “the Philippines’ economic relations with its neighbors in the region such as China continued to improve in 2017 following President Duterte’s foreign policy rebalancing towards Asia,” the DOF said.
“Aid, concessional financing, and investment pledges made by China after its top leaders met with President Duterte in 2016 have progressed into agreements, several of them to help fund the government’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ infrastructure modernization program and its war against illegal drugs,” the DOF added.
Also, “China was among the first countries to pledge assistance in helping rebuild Marawi City in Mindanao after President Duterte declared it free of ISIS-inspired extremists last October,” the DOF noted.