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Palace slams Colmenares for questioning China deal

Malacañang has slammed senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares for being “pitiful” and “desperately seeking media mileage” in criticizing the administration’s Chico River irrigation deal with China.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo accused Colmenares of politicizing bilateral relations with China to boost his senatorial bid.

“Mr. Colmenares is just desperately seeking media mileage by unduly compartmentalizing the loan agreements of the country without the benefit of context and by maliciously labeling it as a China issue,” Panelo said in a statement.

“For the information of Colmenares, the Philippines and China signed a $62.09-million deal last year to help fund the construction of the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project, which will provide a stable supply of water to around 8,700 hectares of agricultural land, benefit 4,350 farmers and their families and serve 21 barangays in the provinces of Kalinga and Cagayan in Northern Luzon once completed,” Panelo said.

He said the project has gone through an Investment Coordinating Committee approval and the loan agreement was reviewed, negotiated, and approved by the inter-agency committee composed of the Department of Justice, the Department of Finance and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

“On the concessional interest rate, according to the DOF, if we account for all salient factors and not just the nominal rate—or example, project cost, denomination of loan, and foreign exchange depreciation risk, among others—the effective interest rates between the recently signed Japanese and Chinese loan agreements are actually quite close to each other,” Panelo said. Vito Barcelo

“For each loan agreement, the DOF mentions that an arbitration clause is negotiated. We negotiate to make sure that the arbitration mechanism protects our interests,” he added.

Colmenares said Beijing wants a Chinese firm to be the contractor for the project. He said a Chinese company would only hire Chinese nationals as workers, which will lead to further labor displacement of Filipino.

But Panelo said based on the DOF report, China gave a list of three contractors of good standing. The implementing agency was also given the opportunity to vet and request for a replacement if needed.

“We hope the political and left-leaning opposition would exercise completed staff work before issuing statements. It is clear that the matter has been studied at length by our economic managers, particularly the DOF, unlike Mr. Colmenares who has only shown himself to be ignorant of the intricacies of finance and immature with political pettiness,” the Palace official added. Vito Barcelo

Topics: Neri Colmenares , Chico River irrigation deal , China
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