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Thursday, December 7, 2023

What can PH do with China’s nine-dash line?

“What surprises me is Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno’s claim that we need all of China’s investment and to have them reviewed undermines them”

Santa Banana, China is not stopping with its former nine-dash line claim of the West Philippine Sea.

Now, it’s a ten-dash line claim of the entire South China Sea and the West Philippine Sea and even the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Philippines.

We may protest all we like, but, my gulay, will China just ignore us as it has done more than a hundred times with China’s bullying and harassment?

I guess not at the rate China seems determined to come out with a map indicating a ten-dash line in line with its aggressive expansion policy claiming all of the South China Sea.

My gulay, China in its map even included within its territory a province of India.

And India is protesting. So, what next?

The Philippines already won its 2016 case at the Arbitral Court at The Hague against China’s nine-dash line, but did China care?

It continues with its bullying of the Philippines at the West Philippine Sea to the extent that China claims Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal) is within China’s territory and sovereignty, to the point of even trying to prevent our vessels from sending supply missions to the grounded and rusty BRP Sierra Madre where a platoon of marine personnel had been assigned to emphasize our claim to Ayungin Shoal, west of Palawan and within our EEZ.

President Marcos Jr. had to go to Jakarta to attend the ASEAN Summit to inform the ASEAN on what China is doing.

Sure, ASEAN can perhaps condemn China’s move, but will that stop China in its aggressive expansionism and bullying and harassment of the Philippines?

We can hope the ASEAN countries will condemn China for its aggressiveness as other countries around the world have done.

Well, my gulay, does China care a bit, the super-power it is?

What I am afraid of is that with its ten-dash line, Filipino fisherfolk would not be able to fish at the Philippine Sea unless they want to be harassed by China’s Coast Guard vessels.

Santa Banana, that happens when you have as a neighbor a super-power like China. All we can do is just grin and bear it.

Review China investments

For quite some time now, there have been suggestions perhaps it was time for the Philippines to review all the investments to the Philippines by China following the renewed attempt of China to claim all of the West Philippine Sea, with its latest ten-dash line map, not in retaliation, but to take a second look at what kind of investments it has in the Philippines.

Santa Banana, recall that many of the Chinese investments are by state-owned companies, in which case, it is really China that has invested in many of strategic investments, thus threatening national security, the last of which is the joint venture with a local company to claim/reclaim a portion of Manila.

And, Santa Banana, this state-owned China Communications Construction Co. (CCCC), blacklisted by the US government for constructing those islands at the West Philippine Sea that have become strategic island ports and airfields, also intends to construct that strategic bridge connecting Cavite and Bataan across Manila Bay.

If I recall, Davao-based billionaire Dennis Uy, a friend of former President Duterte, had a joint venture with a Chinese investor to finance DITO, the third network.

Recall that state-owned Chinese companies are directly under the control of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

With these, China does not need to invade the country.

China is already here in strategic places, threatening national security.

What surprises me is Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno’s claim that we need all of China’s investment and to have them reviewed undermines them.

Santa Banana, have we, as a country, become so desperate for China’s investment that we would even sacrifice national security for China’s money?

Since China’s investment represents a minimal amount of the whole foreign investments. would Diokno sacrifice national security following what China is doing to the country?

NAIA bidding

Here’s some good news.

The big group of the country’s conglomerates that gave an unsolicited bid to rehabilitate and operate the Ninoy Aquino International Airport that was earlier rejected by the government has reentered the bidding for NAIA’s rehabilitation and operation by buying bid documents for the P171 billion contract.

The group of six conglomerates is headed by Aboitiz with other members of the consortium, like the AC Infrastructure of the Ayala group, Asia’s Emerging Dragon Corp., Alliance Global-Infracorp and the JG Summit Infrastructure Holdings Corp.

They had earlier offered an unsolicited bid for P267 billion, but was rejected by the National and Economic Development Authority, chaired by no less than BBM.

The NEDA would rather have NAIA’s rehabilitation go through the bidding process for a rehabilitation-operate-expand-transfer modality in accordance with the Build-Operate-Transfer Law and its revised 2022 implementing rules and regulations.

The six-member conglomerate that will participate in the bidding had earlier included a well-known international airport operator group.

The DOTr said the bidder should have net worth of P20 billion and would be required to post security of P1.71 billion standby letter of credit as part of its bid proposal,

The bid schedule is on Dec. 27, 2023.

Whoever or whatever group will win the bid, there’s now hope that finally NAIA will be rehabilitated and privately operated.

Taking over MRT 3

Another piece of good news.

Manuel V. Pangilinan or MVP, as he is known, of the Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) has joined forces with conglomerate Sumitomo to upgrade the operations of the Metro Rail Line (MRT 3). Sumitomo, the well-known conglomerate of Japan and the MVP-led Metro Pacific will undertake the rehabilitation of the 17-kilometer MRT 3 railway that traverses EDSA.

This project is part of a broader push into railways and transport infrastructure when the MVP conglomerate announced earlier it has also partnered with Malaysian railway pioneer Hartasuma SDN BHD to operate the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 1 and potentially build the Philippines’ first cable car system,

MVP is reportedly also keen on increasing its stake in the LRT-1 line in joint venture by buying out partners like Ayala, should they decide to sell.

Earlier, the MVP-led Metro Pacific turned to less regulated sectors such as agriculture and logistics.

This simply means while the Marcos administration may be facing threats and challenges in its efforts at food security, there’s hope the road to economic recovery is not far from reality.

2 weeks leave of absence

This column will take a Leave of Absence for two weeks.

I’ll be marking my 96th birthday on Sept. 15.

This column will be back on Sept 26, Tuesday.

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