THE Philippines and China are unlikely to modify current agreements on oil and gas exploration in Beijing and will work to prevent joint projects from being affected by corruption, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. said Thursday.
The meeting of both countries’ leaders in Beijing will probably “firmly exclud(e) anything on oil and gas which is the subject of a perfect MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) impossible to improve and will never be amended in the slightest aspect or respect,” Mr. Locsin said in a social media post.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday said President Rodrigo R. Duterte is likely to secure bilateral deals in education, anti-corruption efforts, official development assistance (ODA) and drug rehabilitation during his four-day visit.
Mr. Duterte, on the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, arrived in Beijing late Wednesday and will stay until April 27 for the second session of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.
Mr. Locsin also said the two countries agreed to ensure that the implementation of projects under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) are free from corruption.
“Another agreement is A CLEAN BELT & ROAD INITIATIVE between CHN and PH anti-corruption bodies to prevent and punish corruption in BRI projects,” Mr. Locsin said in a separate post.
“I brought it up in my official visit that the only thing that can go wrong with BRI is local officials looking to make money.”
China’s BRI, which intends to link China to its ancient trade routes in Asia and Europe, among others, is expected to complement the Philippine administration’s P8-trillion “Build, Build, Build,” program.
Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago L. Sta. Romana has said that the forum is expected to bring forward the Philippines’ economic development.
“There’s also a convergence between BRI, Build, Build, Build, and the ASEAN vision of Connectivity. So it is in this convergence that we try to seek synergy and to provide an impetus that will promote our economic interests, that will boost our economic development, and ultimately that will bring benefits to the Filipino people,” Mr. Sta. Romana told reporters in a briefing, Wednesday. — Charmaine A. Tadalan