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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Occidental Mindoro scraps sister pact with China province

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The Occidental Mindoro local government is backing out of a “sister province” pact with China’s Gansu province amid a public outcry following a recent brutal encounter between Philippines and Chinese forces in Ayungin Shoal as well as reports of illegal POGO operations in the provinces.

In a radio interview with Balitang Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro Gov. Eduardo Gadiano confirmed he is no longer pursuing the special relationship with Gansu, a province in north-central China, even after he signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with a Gansu delegation on June 15.

He said there was nothing binding about the signed MOU because it only signaled the beginning of more detailed discussions about the nature and coverage of the “sisterhood” pact.

“Discussions over the sister province pact have been going on for a long time, but it only came to fruition when the Gansu delegation came here last week. But it became such a big deal on social media because of the publicity surrounding Bamban Mayor Guo and the POGO issue as well as China’s bullying in the West Philippine Sea,” Gadiano said in Filipino.

Gadiano explained his administration pursued the sister province pact with Gansu in hopes of addressing his province’s ongoing power crisis.

Talks with Gansu representatives eventually expanded to discussions on the tourism sector and other possible investment opportunities, he said.

“I already told our focal person to cancel the MOU because a lot of people do not understand its contents… and it is not yet binding anyway. We only had an understanding, not an agreement,” he said.

In an online post on June 15, the Provincial Information Office of Occidental Mindoro said local government officials “warmly welcomed” the Gansu delegation when they arrived at the Port of Abra de Ilog last Saturday.

China Coast Guard and maritime militia vessels attacked a lawful routine rotation and resupply (RoRe) mission of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Ayungin Shoal on June 17.

A Filipino sailor lost a thumb in the incident, which saw the Chinese coast guard confiscate or destroy Philippine equipment, including guns.

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