Malacañang is currently satisfied with the pace of the country’s big-ticket projects funded by China even as many of them have yet to break ground or be approved.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this remark as he shrugged off criticism that only a fraction of China’s USD24-billion (PHP1.2 trillion) loans and investment pledges for the administration’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program has materialized.
“Well, we want more but we’re satisfied po kasi dati wala (because before there weren’t any),” Roque said in a Palace press briefing on Monday.
Amid criticism over the country’s China policy, Roque said trade and tourism relations between the Philippines and China greatly improved since the start of the Duterte administration.
“Talagang dumami po iyong mga investments natin. Of course, nagpandemya, so, iyong pagdating po ng mga turista natigil pero bago po nagpandemya, nakita na natin iyong mabilis na pagtaas ng mga turismo galing po sa Tsina (We really had more investments. Of course, there is a pandemic, so our tourism was temporarily halted, we saw a spike in tourist arrivals from China),” he said.
On June 22, Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar said the China-funded Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge is 93 percent complete and set to be open this month.
Costing PHP1.46 billion funded by a grant from the People’s Republic of China, the new Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge would have four lanes and will be a 506.46-meter pre-stressed concrete rigid frame bridge with corrugated steel webs, replacing the temporary two-lane box truss bridge made of modular steel components dismantled in 2019.
Aside from Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge, the PHP3.3-billion Binondo-Intramuros Bridge is also funded by a grant from China.
Villar said the construction of the bridge is now 70 percent complete while substantial completion is expected by December this year.
President Rodrigo Duterte, in a speech last month expressed confidence that his administration’s ambitious Build, Build, Build infrastructure program, which complements China’s Belt and Road Initiative, “will reap long-term benefits for our peoples”.
Retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio earlier said only less than 5 percent of China’s promised USD24 billion in loans and investments have come to fruition.
He emphasized a need to reassess the administration’s pivot to China, noting that Beijing seemed to be merely “promising something, but not delivering”. (Azer Parrocha/PNA)