Probe China firms in PH deals for ‘questionable integrity’–Lacson
MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday called on Malacañang to immediately investigate how Chinese firms with a tainted track record were contracted to undertake major infrastructure projects when President Rodrigo Duterte undertook a state visit to China last week.
Lacson warned that the involvement of the Chinese firms–one banned by the World Bank for fraudulent practices, and another known to be involved in land reclamation activities in the disputed Spratly Islands under protest by the Philippines–may affect how Filipinos regard the President.
Duterte has been vocal about his intent to cozy up to China despite unresolved disputes in the South China Sea while pulling the country away from its traditional alliance with the United States.
“It could erode whatever goodwill President Duterte has built with the Filipino people,” Lacson told the Inquirer when reached for comment.
“Whoever is responsible must be dealt with accordingly and with dispatch. Malacañang should lose no time in investigating the matter and get to the bottom of this embarrassing issue,” he said.
Lacson hopes the questionable deal was not the result of a quid pro quo that involved money.
“I hope these are mere due diligence flaws and lack of oversight instead of a deliberate, and worse, malevolent act of conspiracy with these firms of questionable integrity for some pecuniary considerations,” he said.
Senator Leila de Lima meanwhile said the World Bank ban should have served as “a huge red flag.”
“I am very wary and cautious of such arrangements as these are avenues and instruments of corruption. We have to make sure that our interests are being protected,” she said.
“Instead of “change is coming,” this might turn out to be just another way of scamming the Filipino people. We have been burned by that. We should say ‘Never Again’ to such problematic arrangements,” she told the Inquirer.
The China Road and Bridge Corp. (CRBC) has been contracted to partner with the Bases Conversion and Development Authority to develop a bus rapid transit system connecting the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
CRBC is a subsidiary of the China Communication Construction Co. (CCCC) Ltd., which was sanctioned by the World Bank for fraudulent practices in 2011.
CRBC itself has also been debarred from WB projects since 2009 for the questionable bidding of a national roads improvement project in the Philippines.
China Harbour Engineering Co. Ltd. and CCCC Dredging Co., which are also CCCC subsidiaries, have also bagged Philippine projects despite involvement in reclamation activities in the South China Sea. CDG