Cagayan governor woos China to invest in province
MANILA, Philippines — Cagayan Gov. Manuel Mamba urges China to invest in a seaport and an airport with a three-kilometer runway in his province — located at the country’s northeastern tip of mainland Luzon facing Taiwan — where the US military has been recently granted access as part of an expanded defense agreement.
Mamba played host to Chinese Ambassador to Manila Huang Xilian, who was in Cagayan from Nov. 28 to Dec. 1. He and other Chinese Embassy officials toured different locales and took part in a series of engagements with local officials and the Chinese-Filipino community.
Part of Huang’s stop was the port of Aparri, where the planned seaport would be built.
The proposed seaport will serve as an “international gateway” for China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, Mamba said.
“This port could serve as a staging ground to transact businesses with them. They could also come up with their industrial park here,” he told the Inquirer on Sunday.
Last year, Mamba said Chinese investors were offering to bankroll an international airport and a P10-billion project to rehabilitate the Aparri port.
Riverfront Construction Inc., represented by a certain Feng Li, proposed in 2021 to develop a $200-million international port terminal in Aparri that would make it a “global gateway in the northern part of the Philippines.”
Negotiations are underway for the provincial government to acquire 300 hectares of land in Piat town for the planned airport with the three-kilometer runway. The governor also calls for constructing a railway system to connect the airport and seaport.
Mamba had opposed the inclusion of Cagayan as part of the new locations under the country’s Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) with the United States.
Naval Base Camilo Osias in Santa Ana town and Cagayan North International Airport in Lal-lo town were earlier identified as among the four new sites under the expanded Edca, which allows Washington to build facilities and preposition assets in strategically located military bases in the country.
Mamba said the Edca developments in his province were meant “for war,” while the projects he was pursuing with countries like China were intended for economic purposes.
But he said he would entertain the Americans if they were interested in investments.
During Huang’s visit, the governor was all praises for China, calling it “not only as our steadfast ally and friend but more so of a big brother” for its assistance during calamities and natural disasters.
Mamba played down the Chinese harassment of Philippine vessels.
“That’s nothing. Should you make that an act of war? We’re making a mountain of a molehill… We should talk to them instead. If they wanted war, they would have shot our fishermen already,” he said.