By Raymund Antonio
Vice President Ma. Leonor “Leni” Robredo wants the government to be more transparent on the country’s multi-billion peso loan agreements with China.
Robredo, who served briefly as housing chief, renewed her call for transparency following Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s warning on Chinese loans.
“The Philippines incurs debts not just from China, but from other foreign countries as well. I think what is important is for the government to be transparent as far as the terms of the debt are,” she said.
The Vice President emphasized that the Duterte administration should take the “first step to inform the public” about the terms of the loan agreements.
While he was in Manila for an official visit, Mahathir warned the Philippines to be careful when it comes to borrowing money from China to avoid falling into a “debt trap.”
Robredo said it is “too early” to worry about the Chinese loans, pending the release of the terms of the loan deals.
“It’s too early to say because we are not fully aware yet what the terms of the loan agreements are. If the basis would be the experiences of some other countries like Sri Lanka, then we should be wary,” she said.
“But as far as the Philippines is concerned, I think it would be jumping several steps ahead if we say that the terms are onerous or are not favorable to us,” Robredo added
While the Vice President was not worried yet about Chinese loans, she raised alarm over the influx of Chinese workers in the Philippines.
For Robredo, it’s a “cause for concern” that foreign workers “take away jobs” from Filipinos.
“Everyone has a chance to work in the Philippines. Our own laws state that if there are jobs that no Filipino can qualify to, then we can take in foreign workers,” she said.
“We have a high unemployment rate, and it doesn’t seem right that jobs meant for Filipinos will be, you know, will be given to non-Filipinos,” she added.
The Vice President also questioned the legality of the employment of more Chinese and other foreigners in the country.
“I think from last year, we saw an influx of foreign workers, and we are not really sure if all of them are, you know, are legally allowed to work in the Philippines,” she said.