Panelo, Zhao agree: PH-China agreements negotiated on ‘equal footing’
MANILA, Philippines — Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo and Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua agreed Monday that the loan agreements the Philippines has entered into with China were negotiated on “equal footing.”
Panelo said this in a statement after their 50-minute meeting in Malacañang on Monday afternoon.
“On Philippine loan agreements with China, both officials share a similar view that the terms of the agreements were competently and fully negotiated by both parties on equal footing,” Panelo said.
“According to Ambassador Zhao, it is the strong and robust economy of the Philippines that led the Chinese government to extend preferential credit terms for the country’s infrastructure plans,” he added.
This came amid questions on the terms of the $62-million Chico River Pump Irrigation project, which is allegedly onerous in favor of China.
Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio even said that China can seize the oil-rich Reed Bank in case the Philippines fail to pay its obligation to China.
Chinese workers exploitation
During the meeting, Panelo said Zhao expressed concern over the “likely exploitation” of Chinese workers in illegal gambling operations in the Philippines.
The Chinese envoy also assured that their government “does not consent to any illegal entry or employment of its citizens in the country.”
In an interview with reporters before their meeting, Zhao called on the Philippine government to deal with illegal Chinese workers “professionally.”
The Palace official added that they have also discussed the International Criminal Court (ICC) “where they express the importance of respect for the sovereignty of nations.”
The officials likewise gave importance to bilateral talks between the two governments to address possible issues in the West Philippine Sea. /ee
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