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China offers help to build 2 MM bridges, drug rehab center

BEIJING – China has offered a 500-million yuan (R3.6 billion) grant to the Philippines for the construction of two bridges in Metro Manila and another drug rehabilitation center, among others.

The latest Chinese grant extended to the Philippines was among the four bilateral pacts sealed between the two countries last Monday amid improving bilateral relations.

The signing of the agreements, that included cooperation deals on energy, human resources, and communication exchange, was witnessed by President Duterte and China President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People last Monday.

“We have always been very thankful to China for its generosity. And your presence here is one indication that we are doing all right,” Duterte told reporters upon arrival in Davao City on Tuesday morning from his visit to China.

“We already have about 100 million coming in and they have promised us something like another 500 million,” he added.

Duterte was referring to the Chinese grant, under the “Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation,” signed for the Philippines for Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez II.

“The Agreement will serve as the basis for the grant to be provided by China to the Philippines, to implement the grant of RMB 500,000,000 (Five Hundred Million Renminbi Yuan only) to conduct feasibility studies for major projects, construction of the drug abuse treatment and rehabilitation centre and bridges crossing the Pasig River, and other projects agreed by both sides,” a statement from the Palace read.

The President said China has offered to build the two bridges along the Philippines for free. The proposed Binondo-Intramuros Bridge and the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge to be constructed near the Guadalupe Bridge aims to ease traffic conditions in Metro Manila.

“It’s in the blueprint, I don’t know at what stage. It is but they will start on the two bridges that to expand the Pasig River. These two bridges are gratis. It’s a grant. It’s a – no payment, sort of a donation,” Duterte said.

China is also “very eager to start” other infrastructure projects, including a railway line, this year, according to the President.

“They want to start this year. And I hope that everything will go on smoothly. At least before the end of the year we see an effort on both sides to start on the projects,” he added.

Apart from the grant from China, the two countries agreed to step up cooperation on energy, human resource development, and information and communication during Duterte’s visit to Beijing.

A memorandum of understanding was inked to strengthen bilateral cooperation in the electric power, oil and natural gas sectors, and others, as mutually agreed.

The deal was entered into by Department of Energy and China’s National Energy Administration.

The National Economic and Development Authority and China’s Ministry of Commerce also forged a memorandum of understanding to strengthen cooperation in human resource development and promoting personnel exchanges.

The last agreement involved the Presidential Communications Operations Office and China International Publishing Group on strengthening cooperation on news and publishing. The two parties agreed to enhance capabilities in the field of international communication and publishing as well as undertake joint or individual activities and programs.

“With the signing of key agreements on Economic and Technical Cooperation, Human Resource Development, Energy and News Publishing, we continue to look for ways to deepen collaboration,” Duterte said. (GENALYN KABILING)

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