Palace: Duterte won’t follow US lead, to continue projects with Chinese firms
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte will not follow the lead of the United States government in terminating contracts with Chinese companies involved in Beijing’s reclamation activities in the highly-contested South China Sea, Malacañang said Tuesday.
The US government recently announced sanctions and restrictions on 24 state-owned firms of China as well as associated officials for taking part in building artificial islands in the disputed waters.
These firms include China Communications Construction Co. Ltd. which in a joint venture with Lucio Tan’s MacroAsia Corp., bagged the initial phase of the Sangley Point International Airport (SPIA) project in Cavite, a province south of Metro Manila.
Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla said he would seek Duterte’s guidance on whether or not to go ahead with the project.
But presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the Sangley project, along with other projects involving Chinese firms will push through.
“The Sangley project will push through. The President declared last night that the Americans ay pupwede nilang ipatupad ‘yung blacklisting ng mga Chinese companies sa kanilang teritoryo sa Amerika at siguro sa doon kanilang mga base na nasa ilalim ng kanilang hurisdiksyon,” Roque said in a televised Palace press briefing.
“Pero malinaw pong sinabi ng Presidente, hindi po siya susunod sa direktiba ng mga Amerikano dahil tayo po ay malaya at independiyenteng bansa at kinakailangan natin ang mga namumuhunan galing po sa bansang Tsina.”
He added: “So Sangley and all other projects, kahit sino pong Chinese contractor ‘yan tuluy-tuloy po yan dahil ang pang-nasyunal na interes natin ay masiguro na matapos po ang mga flasghip projects natin sa ilalim ng Build, Build, Build.”
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. earlier said he would “strongly” recommend the termination of contracts between the Philippine government and companies involved in China’s reclamation activities in the South China Sea.
China has been pushing for its expansive claims in the South China Sea, refusing to recognize the 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) which invalidated its ambitious nine-dash line feature which virtually owns the entire body of water.
Meanwhile, Duterte has chosen to shelve the PCA ruling in exchange for Chinese economic perks to help fund his administration’s infrastructure projects even as the Asian powerhouse continues its military activities within the Philippine territory.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.