Duterte defends china loans despite criticisms

MANILA • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (picture) is standing firm on his decision to borrow from China for infrastructure funding, despite warnings from his critics of unfavourable loan conditions.

Terms of the Chinese loans are not disadvantageous to the Philippines, Duterte’s spokesman Salvador Panelo said at a briefing yesterday.

It’s “not possible” for China to seize the Philippines’ natural resources because the South-East Asian nation is unlikely to default on its obligations, Panelo said.

“The onerous conditions that some say are incorporated in the contracts are standard between lender and borrower to ensure that the lender will get paid,” Panelo said yesterday.

China has so far provided US$273.3 million (RM1.11 billion) in loans to the Philippines for a dam and an irrigation project, according to the Finance Department.

Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio warned on March 22 that China might seize gas fields within the Philippine economic zone in the South China Sea if the Philippines defaults on its US$62 million loan for the Chico dam.

The Finance Department also posted the Kaliwa Dam loan deal on its website, and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea assured that the government is ready to release more documents. The Chinese loan, with a 2% interest, was tapped for the dam project because it’s cheaper and faster to acquire, Finance Assistant Secretary Antonio Lambino said. — Bloomberg