From rifles and drug rehab to bridges across Pasig: China-PH listing ‘2nd basket’ of infra projects

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Public Works Sec. Mark Villar formally receives donated heavy equipment from Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua. HANDOUT PHOTO

MANILA – Aside from projects China’s government has already committed to the Philippines, the Chinese Embassy in Manila said the two sides are working to identify a “second basket of infrastructure projects” which could be built in the following years.

In a forum on Saturday, Ethan Sun, embassy counselor, said that, in seeking to synergize China’s Belt and Road Initiative and President Rodrigo Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” strategy, China has already pledged to build two bridges over the Pasig River, hoping to help relieve traffic pressure in Metro Manila.

In his keynote speech, he said the groundbreaking for these is expected to take place “soon”.

China will also finance feasibility studies for the construction of Davao City expressway and a bridge linking Panay, Guimaras and Negros, he added.

As of press time, no information has yet been released regarding the said “second basket” of infrastructure projects.

At the latest, China is expected to provide concessional loans for the country’s three priority infrastructure programs, namely the new water resource Kaliwa dam, Chico river pump irrigation project and the south line of the North-South railway.

‘TUNAY NA KAIBIGAN’

Speaking in Filipino, Sun said China will adhere to Filipino values that “tunay na kaibigan ay nahayag sa panahon ng pangangailangan (True friends are there in times of need).”

“Believe me, China would always be such a friend in need,” he said, adding that apart from assisting in infrastructure, China will “firmly support” the Philippines’ fight against illicit drugs.

“China already provided the Philippines with two batches of equipment worth P436 million, among which were drug detecting and testing equipment,” he explained.

Two drug rehabilitation centers in Mindanao sponsored by Chinese grants are expected to be launched in the country, he said.

Meanwhile, to support the government’s anti-terrorism campaign, the Chinese government has provided firearms and ammunition, relief for the displaced people, medical treatment to the wounded and support to the fallen soldiers’ families, according to him.

Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua recently handed over 47 pieces of engineering equipment to the Philippine side for the upcoming Marawi rebuilding and rehabilitation days after President Duterte declared the city liberated from terrorists.

“Looking ahead, China will continue to stand ready to be a closer partner in the Philippines’ strive to build a stable, strong and prosperous nation,” he said.