Lawmakers hopeful of Xi’s PH visit, Manila-Beijing bilateral accords

Published November 19, 2018, 2:52 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Charissa Luci-Atienza

House leaders are enthusiastic about Chinese President Xi Jinping’s two-day visit to the Philippines starting Tuesday, saying that it will “definitely improve” the country’s bilateral ties with China.

(EPA / MANILA BULLETIN)Former Speaker and Quezon City Rep. Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr., chairman of the House special panel on the West Philippine Sea, said he is awaiting the signing of several agreements during Xi’s historic and first visit to the country.

“Xi’s visit will definitely improve our ties with China. We are awaiting of course the details of the various agreements to be signed during the visit,” he said.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III earlier disclosed that several China-funded infrastructure deals are expected to be inked and that the proposed oil exploration deal between Manila and Beijing is among the agreements being considered for signing.

Deputy Speaker and Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu also welcomed the “significant” state visit of the Chinese president.

“China has historically been one of our oldest trade partners; going back hundreds of years ago. We’ve always had a prosperous partnership. Despite colonization and world wars, it is noteworthy to say that our relationship remained,” he said.

“We look forward to an even better relationship with our Chinese neighbors. Whether it be through better communication, trade, or peace, I’m sure that this historic visit is a great step in achieving that goal,” he said.

Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte took note of the Duterte government’s efforts to promote deeper economic integration with China, anticipating the signing of economic accords between the two countries.

He expressed hope that the government will keep engaging with China to improve the country’s financial stature, citing China’s importance as an engine of growth for the Southeast Asian region.

AKO BICOL partylist Rep. Rodel Batocabe also cheered at Xi’s visit, which he said would “further warm” the relations between the two countries. “I just hope the oil explorations will be advantageous to us and will recognize our sovereignty while paving the way for further joint exploration and the use of contested territories,” he said.

According to Dominguez, the proposed financing agreements for projects to be signed during Xi’s visit were being reviewed by different departments.

These projects include New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project, the southern railway connecting Manila and Bicol, the Subic-Clark railway, and the Mindanao railway system.

Malacañang earlier announced that Xi nodded to President’s invitation to embark on a state visit to the Philippines.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo noted that it will be the first state visit of a Chinese president in 13 years.