President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping witnessed the signing of six bilateral agreements last week following the bilateral meeting held between the two leaders here.
President Duterte was in China to attend the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA), where he was one of the speakers.
In his opening remarks during the bilateral meeting, Duterte said he was happy that the Philippines and China have maintained its bilateral relations and brought it to a higher level of friendship.
He also expressed elation on Xi’s re-election as President of the People’s Republic of China.
In his remarks, Duterte assured Xi of the Philippines “fullest cooperation” in combating transnational crimes and terrorism.
“We welcome China’s hosting of the 6th Annual Defense and Security Talks to discuss better cooperation,” Duterte said.
The President noted however that the two countries “can do more” to boost its military and defense cooperation under the framework of the 2004 Memorandum of Understanding on Defense Cooperation.
“I’d like to say it in a very short way — we are with you in this,” Duterte said.
Duterte also reiterated his gratitude to the Chinese government for its assistance to the Philippines during the Marawi siege.
“It spelled the difference between victory and defeat, at least on a shorter term, that we are able to put down the terroristic activities that have perpetuated in Marawi,” Duterte said, noting that it was a Chinese rifle that killed Isnilon hapilon, the number one terrorist in the Marawi siege.
Meanwhile, Duterte and Xi witnessed the signing of six bilateral agreements between the Philippines and China.
The first agreement signed was the Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of the People’s Republic of China.
It was signed by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan.
The second to be signed was the Exchange of Letters on the Phase III of the Technical Cooperation Project for the Filipino-Sino Center for Agricultural Technology, also signed by Secretary Dominguez and Commerce Minister Zhong Shan.
The third agreement was the Exchange of Letters for the Pre-Feasibility Study of the Proposed Davao City Expressway Project, which was signed by Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar and Zhong Shan.
The fourth to be signed was the Exchange Letter for Broadcasting Equipment to the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) of the Philippines, signed by PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar and Zhong Shan.
The fifth agreement to be signed was the Memorandum of Understanding on the Employment of Filipino Teachers of English Language in China, which was signed by Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III and Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua.
The last agreement to be signed was the Preferential Buyer’s Credit Loan Agreement on the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project, which was signed by Dominguez III and the Chinese envoy to the Philippines.
Accompanying President Duterte during the bilateral meeting were Presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, DPWH Secretary Mark Villar, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, and Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana.
During a press briefing in Hong Kong on April 11, the Palace spokesperson, together with Andanar and Cayetano, said the Chinese government will be providing over 3 billion pesos worth of economic and infrastructure assistance to the Philippines.
Apart from the P3.8 billion economic and infrastructure assistance that was provided by China through various signed agreements by the countries’ line agencies, Roque said nine Chinese companies also signed letters of intent to explore business opportunities in the Philippines, which has an estimated investment value of $9.5 billion.
With regard to discussions on the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) dispute, Roque said there was an agreement between the two nations to focus on stability and strengthened communications in order to avoid untoward incidents.
The Secretary stressed that all projects that were discussed during the bilateral meeting were aimed at benefiting the Filipino people.
Andanar for his part announced that the Chinese government had expressed commitment to help with the infrastructure development of the country’s broadcasting system.
“It is a very good indication that China is very committed to helping our government media in the Philippines in improving its services,” Andanar said.
The PCOO Secretary cited Xi’s remark on the importance of media exchange not just between the Philippines and China, but also among other Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states.
Andanar also said China would continue to provide scholarships to media members of the Philippine government for the next four years.
Meanwhile, Cayetano quoted the Chinese President as saying that the essence of the state-to-state relationship between China and the Philippines is based on the concept of mutual trust.
The Foreign Affairs Secretary further assured the safety of the Chinese President during his forthcoming visit in the country this November, stressing that the Philippines has become much safer under the Duterte administration.
“We have assured the Chinese of not only great hospitality, warm welcome, but also of the necessary security preparations,” Cayetano said.
Roque said that Chinese visitors in the Philippines almost doubled in number since President Duterte assumed office, which indicates that the country is seen as a safer place to visit.
During the same press briefing, Roque reiterated the President’s latest statement that there would be no plan for a casino project in Boracay Island.
“The President was talking about the physical existence of a casino in Boracay which he will not allow, unless he has issued a proclamation to this effect because of the decision that Boracay, the island, is state-owned,” Roque clarified.
The Palace Spokesperson stressed that as far as Boracay is concerned, Duterte’s priority at this time is to preserve the island for future generations, as well as to ensure that ordinary Filipinos, not just rich business owners, would benefit mostly from the island’s rehabilitation.
“It’s up to the President to decide who will be given actually tenurial rights in Boracay. He has said that he would like to give priority to the ordinary Filipinos, to the farmers… But for the time being, the task is to preserve Boracay for the future generations,” Roque said. —FVE with PCOO