Tañada: PH would lose if it continues to play the ‘Chinese game’
Using games to explain geopolitics, Oposisyon Koalisyon (OK) senatorial candidate Erin Tañada said on Wednesday that the Philippine government would lose if it continues to give way to China.
“The question foremost on the mind of every Pinoy with this visit from President Xi Jinping is, why are we playing Chinese checkers with the Chinese when we should be playing sungka?” Tañada said in a statement on Wednesday.
“We are playing the game they invented, so naturally we are at a disadvantage; nothing could be more obvious from these signed agreements,” he added.
The former 4th district Quezon province representative also questioned the returns of the deals with China.
“What’s in it for the Pinoys? Chinese loans are more expensive, so that is not the benefit. Chinese grants for infrastructure projects are just vehicles for exporting Chinese labor and expanding the business of Chinese construction firms, so that is not it either,” Tañada explained.
“What is left, then? Is the benefit just Chinese money? And at what price?” he asked.
During the first day of Chinese President Xi Jingping’s state visit to the Philippines on Tuesday, he and President Rodrigo Duterte witnessed the signing of 29 bilateral agreements.
Some of the deals focus on oil and gas development, basic education, and communication technology.
The details of the contracts have not been made public by the government. Earlier, Vice President Leni Robredo and Tañada’s fellow candidates at OK urged the administration to be transparent in signing contracts with China to ensure that the country is not be placed at a disadvantage.
For Tañada, the Filipino people will not benefit from the deals signed by the two countries.
“All I see from the agreements are successes for the Chinese—our issuing panda bonds, the Chinese industrial parks, the authority to operate for the ICBC (Industrial and Commercial Bank of China), the organization of the Renminbi-Peso Forex Trading market—the fruition of China’s plans to be our top trading partner, main importer of goods, and now biggest lender,” he noted.
“What I do not see is any real and clear benefit to the Filipino people,” he said. “And as for the MOU on oil and gas development, did it come with any concession at all from the Chinese as to our claims in the West Philippine Sea?”
Tañada proposed that the country’s top officials prioritize Filipino jobs and business instead before foreign interests.
“I would have wanted the government to first leverage Pinoy jobs and businesses before inking more big deals with the Chinese […] What about the export of Chinese workers to our country when we have a surplus of labor, and hundreds of thousands of Pinoys go abroad to work every year?” he asked.
He also advised the Duterte administration to take a stand, so that China would not be led into thinking that the Philippines would accede to its requests.
“The trouble with the relationship that this administration has built with China is that it equates realpolitik with Filipino subservience,” Tañada said.
“We have key officials saying, ‘China is already in the West Philippine Sea, so there is nothing we can do about it,’ or ‘China’s BRI is already well underway in the rest of Asia, we might as well get on board,’ or ‘China will give us grants anyway, so we should take out loans with interest rates 1,100% higher than other loan sources’,” he added. /ee
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