By Ellson Quismorio
Administration congressmen insisted Tuesday that China remains a friend of the Philippines, despite all the bad press the regional power has been getting of late.
Surigao del Norte 2nd district Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, Surigao del Sur 2nd district Rep. Johnny Pimentel, and Isabela 1st district Rep. Rodito Albano all cited practical reasons to justify their view that the Chinese were Filipinos’ “pengyou”, or friend.
“Yes, I consider China a friend because the Duterte administration has been making efforts to strengthen our relationship with them, and because these efforts have already borne fruit,” said Pimentel, a former chairman of the Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability.
“China has now invested in our country and has funded several infrastructure projects,” he noted.
Barbers, chairman of the Committee on Dangerous Drugs, gave a similar argument, saying: “They (Chinese) are a friend since they are helping the Philippines in our infrastructure and social development programs under this administration.”
Somewhat alluding to “tough” statements made recently by Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua on the West Philippine Sea (WPS) issue, Barbers said, “they are still not capable of launching an invasion anywhere in the world, so they are still our friends.”
For Albano, it only makes sense that fellow Asians like the Filipinos and Chinese stick together.
“They’re the closest to us…..Asian for Asians,” said the former Commission on Appointments (CA) member.
Albano further argued that China remains a friend of the Philippines “for the simple reason that majority of us have Chinese blood.”
Historians have noted that Filipinos and Chinese have engaged in trade long before Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan “discovered” the Philippines in 1521.
All three solons are staunch supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte, who upon taking over as President in June 30, 2016, has endeavored to improve ties between Beijing and Manila.