Gov’t urged to cancel China funding for infra projects
MANILA -Public policy think thank Infrawatch PH urged the National Economic Development Authority (Neda) to cancel Chinese funding for big-ticket infrastructure projects given the ongoing territorial disputes.
Infrawatch PH convener Terry Ridon, in a statement on Wednesday, said the government would need to reevaluate all its China-assisted projects before moving forward. He stressed the need for the country to diversify its funding sources for infrastructure projects.
“Our infrastructure ambitions must not be held hostage to the whims of a single foreign power. Many international funding options are available that respect our sovereignty and offer more favorable terms,” he explained.
The China Eximbank, to recall, was asking for a 3-percent interest on loans, much higher than the 0.1-percent rate charged by Japan.
Chinese loan-financed projects include the Davao City Expressway Project, Samal Island Davao City Connector Project, Ambal-Simuay River and Rio Grande de Mindanao River Flood Control Projects and the Metro Manila Flood Management Project Phase 1.
“Canceling these projects is a definitive way to assert our national interests and sovereignty. It sends a strong signal to Beijing that we are serious about defending our sovereignty,” he said.
Ridon also warned against the political influence of receiving funding from China.
“These financial entanglements could potentially influence our political decisions, compromising our national interests in favor of external agenda,” he explained.
Philippines and China have an ongoing territorial dispute over the West Philippine Sea, which lies on the former’s exclusive economic zones. The presence of Chinese vessels has escalated tensions between the countries.
Infrawatch PH released its statement after the Department of Transportation (DOTr) announced the country was withdrawing loan negotiations with China for three major railway projects: the P142-billion South Long Haul project in Bicol, P50-billion Subic-Clark Railway project (SCRP) and the P36-billion first phase of the Mindanao Railway Project (MRP).