SPEAKER Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo yesterday assured Chinese President Xi Jinping that the House of Representatives fully supports of his and President Rodrigo Duterte’s undertakings toward economic growth and modernization of the Philippines and China despite the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea.
“We support and applaud the approach that Your Excellency and President Duterte are taking, especially as you’ve mentioned it last night (Tuesday), for a strategic and comprehensive relationship,” Arroyo told Xi during their courtesy call in Taguig City with Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III and other lawmakers.
Arroyo underscored the importance to further develop the ties of the two countries for “a strategic and comprehensive relationship.”
“Infrastructure will be very important for the Philippines in the coming years and there is no country in the world that matches China’s recent track record and capability in this area,” said Arroyo on Xi who left the country yesterday after a two-day state visit.
Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte, Jr. and Deputy Speaker and Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu praised President Duterte for the “bonanza” secured by the Philippines, ranging from concessional financing for the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program to joint oil and gas exploration plus stronger cooperation in education and agriculture with China.
“President Duterte’s bold foreign policy rebalancing has paid off handsomely. For those who wrongly think that we have much to lose instead of gain from our reinvigorated ties with China on the Duterte watch, they should examine the agreements we have forged this week with Beijing before mouthing off preposterous statements opposing these deals,” said Villafuerte.
“China has historically been one of our oldest trade partners; going back hundreds of years ago, we’ve always had a prosperous partnership. Despite colonizations and world wars, it is noteworthy to say that our relationship remained,” said Abu for his part.
Meanwhile, Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III stressed the importance of good diplomatic relations between the Philippines and China as the Senate of the Philippines welcomed Chinese President Xi Jinping during the joint call of both Houses.
Sotto insisted that despite the issues surrounding the South China Sea, there are much more things that bind the Philippines and China together than what may divide the two countries.
In response, President Xi Jinping stressed that the South China Sea is a sea of friendship and cooperation that creates a bond of friendship for the two nations. Furthermore, President Xi Jinping laid down to the members of the Congress his future plans for Filipinos, which include increasing job opportunities for Filipino teachers and nurses; multiplying mutual visits from 1 Million to 2 Million; and opening up free trade to the Philippines, among others.
After the joint call, Sotto thanked President Xi Jinping for accommodating them and is looking forward to have a common strategic cooperation with China.
However, Senator Grace Poe reminded administration to be transparent in all economic and policy agreements with China. She stressed that commitments with China would not just mean economic issues but also a matter of sovereignty.
“The government owes it to the Filipinos to divulge the details of the agreements to see if there are potentials for red flags or if there are elements there that would put us at a disadvantage,” said Poe.
She added that the Philippine government had under the fingertips the legal victory from the international arbitral tribunal which should be used to the Filipinos advantage.
With Marlon Purificacion