Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Wednesday backpedaled on his suggestion to rescind the contracts of Chinese companies that were earlier sanctioned by the United States for involvement in the artificial island-building in the West Philippine Sea or the South China Sea.
Locsin’s sudden turn-around came after President Duterte declared that all projects, “regardless of which Chinese contractor is involved” will continue, citing national interest as the reason.
“President is right: a sovereign choice. Also, if we break a contract, we get sued abroad,” the country’s top diplomat said in a tweet.
Locsin noted a breach of contract that happened in the North Rail project during the time of the Arroyo administration when the Philippines terminated the project with China due to alleged serious legal issues in the contract.
“Happened even with an anomalous North Rail contract. We lost the case I believe. At best we can adopt prospectively but I wouldn’t encourage it,” the foreign secretary said in the tweet he posted at exactly 8:07 a.m. on Wednesday. He later deleted the tweet.
One of the Chinese companies mentioned in the US sanction was the state-owned China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) that bagged the $10-billion Sangley Point International Airport project in partnership with Lucio Tan’s MacroAsia Corp.
The US government alleged that CCCC was one of the many companies involved in the controversial reclamation and construction of military posts in the South China Sea.
Malacanang, however, said Duterte will not follow the lead of the United States because the Philippines is a free and independent nation and in need of the projects from China.
“We are not a vassal state of any foreign power,” palace spokesman Harry Roque said.
Last Friday, Locsin strongly recommended the termination of relationships with Chinese firms in response to sanctions imposed by Washington against individuals and companies behind the reclamation of maritime features and the militarization of the South China Sea.