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Palace will take Mahathir’s advice on Chinese loans


MANILA — Malacañang on Monday welcomed the advice of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to be “very careful” when relying on loans from China to finance the administration’s infrastructure projects.

“Of course, we will take his advice,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a Palace briefing, assuring that government is reviewing these loans.

“The economic managers are evaluating all kinds of loans that we are having with the Chinese government,” he added.

Panelo, however, assured anew that the Philippines-China loan agreement for the Chico River pump irrigation project did not give the Philippines a short end.

“With respect to the Chico Dam, I think the eco managers have already explained that we are not at the disadvantage,” Panelo said.

The Chico River pump irrigation project aims to provide a stable supply of water to around 8,700 hectares of agricultural land, benefit 4,350 farmers and their families, and serve 21 barangays in the provinces of Kalinga and Cagayan in Northern Luzon.

Other projects for Chinese loan financing include the New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project, the Philippine National Railways’ South Long Haul Project, and the Davao-Samal Bridge Construction Project.

In a TV interview before meeting President Rodrigo R. Duterte in Malacañan Palace on March 7, Mahathir warned against heavily relying on Chinese loans.

“If you borrow huge sums of money from China and you cannot pay, you know when a person is a borrower, he is under the control of the lender, so we have to be very careful with that,” Mahathir said in an interview over ANC.

China has committed to support the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program through Official Development Assistance (ODA) loans and grants.

China will also build for free the Binondo-Intramuros and Estrella-Pantaleon bridges along Pasig river. (PNA) By Azer Parrocha