Palace assures transparency in Philippines-China deals

November 21, 2018
Xi Jingping
China's President Xi Jinping waves while carrying an umbrella as he departs from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport
yesterday at the end of his 2-day state visit. AFP

MALACAÑANG yesterday assured the public the government will release documents and information on the state visit of China’s President Xi Jinping.

During his visit to Malacañang on Tuesday, Xi and President Rodrigo Duterte witnessed the signing of 29 deals including the memorandum of understanding on oil and gas development amid speculation that a draft framework agreement on the proposed joint exploration deal on the disputed South China Sea had been prepared by Beijing.

Vice President Leni Robredo and Senator Francis Escudero immediately called on the government to be transparent with all the bilateral agreements signed with China.

Opposition Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Francis Pangilinan meanwhile filed on Monday a resolution seeking transparency on the proposed oil and gas deal.

“The Palace takes into account that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), which is the Office of Primary Responsibility during the state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to the country, is still preoccupied with activities on Day 2 of the Chinese leader’s visit,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said, as he asked for “everyone’s understanding, especially the media, in this regard.”

“We assure everyone that the government would release all pertinent information for public consumption once President Xi’s visit has culminated, and as soon as the complete, proper, and correct documents become certified and available,” he added.

Apart from oil and gas cooperation, the Philippines and China also inked deals covering the fields of trade and investment, banking and finance, infrastructure, agriculture, education, culture, and people to people exchanges among others.

Before the exchange of deals, Xi and Duterte took part in an expanded bilateral meeting.

According to Duterte, both countries discussed China’s participation in infrastructure projects under the ambitious Build Build Build program, cooperation on the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Marawi, and the Philippines’ participation in China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative, unveiled in 2013, aims to bolster a sprawling network of land and sea links with Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and Africa.

Also discussed during the expanded bilateral meeting were mutual concerns on defense, security, maritime cooperation, law enforcement, transnational crime, as well as strengthening partnership in combating the trafficking of illegal drugs.

The two countries also touched on cooperation in enhancing two-way tourism, agriculture, education, science and technology, and cultural exchanges.

Xi is now on his way to Beijing after a historic two-day state visit, the first by a Chinese head of state in 13 years.