Robredo demands transparency on deals with China
Vice President Leni Robredo called on the administration on Wednesday to be transparent amid 29 bilateral agreements signed between the Philippine government and the People’s Republic of China.
According to Robredo, Filipinos should be aware of the deals as these would affect people even after the term of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“We call on the administration to be transparent with all the bilateral agreements signed yesterday with the People’s Republic of China. The Filipino people should be informed how deals — such as the Memorandum of Understanding on the Belt and Road Initiative, the Infrastructure Cooperation Program, and, most notably, the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation on Oil and Gas Development — will benefit our country and serve our national interest,” the Vice President said in a statement.
“These documents signed during the State Visit of President Xi Jinping will affect the everyday lives of each Filipino, not only under this administration, but for years to come. It is the duty of the administration to inform the public what the nation stands to gain from such agreements,” she added.
Xi, who is in the country for a two-day state visit, witnessed with Duterte the signing of different documents in Malacañang on Tuesday. These include a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for oil and gas development, although the location of the exploration site has yet to be revealed.
Details of the 28 other deals, such as an MOU on basic education cooperation and an one betweeen the Department of Information and Communication Technology and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China have yet to be released by Malacañang.
Robredo clarified that she was not against strengthening ties with China — however, only if the interests of the nation were safeguarded.
“We welcome the friendship of the People’s Republic of China. But this friendship should not come at the expense of the interests of our people and our nation,” she noted.
“Our interests should always come first when we deepen relations with other nations, especially at a time when majority of our people continue to contend with daily challenges brought about by elevated prices and lack of livelihood opportunities,” she added.
She also asked the government to uphold the country’s claim on the West Philippine Sea (WPS), as affirmed by the United Nations (UN) Arbitral Tribunal decision to invalidate the “nine-dash line”.
The nine-dash line is a demarcation line used by the Chinese government to indicate bodies of land and water that make up their territory. A huge part of the WPS or the South China Sea is included in it.
“We urge the administration to stand firm and exert all diplomatic means to assert our sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea, consistent with the our historic victory before the arbitral tribunal more than two years ago,” Robredo asked
“Our sovereignty must not be compromised in any agreement we enter into with any country,” she said.
In several previous occasions, President Duterte openly expressed his preference for China, shifting from the previous administration’s foreign policy. Opposition groups, however, criticize Duterte for purportedly allowing the Asian superpower to militarize the WPS, supposedly placing the Philippines at a disadvantage.
China began reclaiming and building artificial islands inside the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone during the last administration amid a sudden rise in tension between Manila and Beijing.
The Chinese continued developing and started militarizing the islands despite efforts by Duterte to revive good bilateral relations with China. Tensions, however, have eased in disputed waters with Filipino fishermen managing to return to traditional fishing grounds in the Scarborough Shoal. With Stephanie Florida, Inquirer Southern Luzon /cbb
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