Palace will take Mahathir’s advice; assures all loans from China evaluated

Published March 11, 2019, 3:38 PM

by Patrick Garcia

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang said it will take the advice of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad to be very careful when borrowing huge sums of money from China.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement after Mahathir said last week that the Philippines can be put under the control of China if the country is not able to pay back the 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 with ANC last week.

The 93-year-old leader who was on a two-day official visit to Manila, also said that Malaysia has shelved two China-funded projects last year, citing unfavorable terms to his country.

In his press briefing, Panelo said that the Palace definitely will take the advice of the world’s oldest state leader.

He, however, assured that the country’s economic managers have studied well the terms of the loans before agreeing on them.

“Of course we will take his advice and the economic managers are evaluating all kinds of loans that we are having with Chinese government,” he said.

Last week, senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares raised concern about an “onerous” and “one-sided” loan agreement between the Philippines and China, referring to the loan agreement for the Chico River pump irrigation project.

The project broke ground in June 2018, and was among six bilateral agreements signed in April last year.

“With respect to the Chico Dam, I think the eco managers have already explained we’re not at a disadvantage,” Panelo said Monday.

Last week, Panelo said that the particular project had gone through an Investment Coordinating Committee approval; and the loan agreement was reviewed, negotiated, and approved by the Interagency Committee composed of the DOF and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).