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Financial trap

Are we not falling into a trap of becoming a debt slave in our attempt to borrow heavily from China?

We all know that President Duterte wants his infrastructure projects financed, but there could be unforeseen circumstances in the process.

An analyst of Forbes magazine warns that the planned $167 billion in loans from China as announced by Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno could balloon to $452 billion and sell the Philippines into debt bondage.

If that happens, there is no telling if China will demand that our country give up our rights to our exclusive economic zone (EEC) as well as our extended continental shelf (ECS) that were stipulated by no less than the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Have we not learned from earlier experiences in doing business with China like the overpriced NBN-ZTE and MRT controversies? What of the R3 billion squandered in faulty trains from China?

And as we continue to fall badly in debt, will we not appear in the eyes of the world as a pathetic country trying to offer our goods to China while constantly seeking new loans to cover old ones?

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The Philippines is set to purchase equipment from Poly Technologies Incorporated, which happens to be one of China’s leading defense manufacturing and exporting firms.

According to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, this could be in the form of airplanes, drones and fast boats which would be most useful for stopping kidnappings perpetrated by bandit groups in the provinces of Basilan, Tawi-Tawi and Sulu.

Lorenzana gave the assurance that the Philippines would make certain not to purchase defective or substandard equipment.

And again, the Chinese government offered a $500-million loan to help the Philippines buy these defense assets. We might find ourselves neck-deep in our loans from China sooner than we think.

Still, the Philippines should be cautious in dealing with Poly Technologies that was criticized by human rights groups like Amnesty International for exporting arms to conflict zones in Africa, and for providing arms to authoritarian governments.

Should we go into business with a firm that was reportedly sanctioned by the United States for violating the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Act in 2013?

Think again.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email firingline@ymail.com or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at http://www.tempo.com.ph/category/opinion/firing-line/ (Robert B. Roque, Jr.)