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PHL to tap RMB100-M grant from China for drug rehab facilities, public security programs

MANILA - Manila and Beijing are speeding up the implementation of several agreements forged last year between the two countries, including the establishment of drug rehabilitation facilities and the acquisition of law enforcement equipment to be funded by a RMB 100 million-yuan grant from China, according to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.

Dominguez, who led a two-day Philippine mission to China last Jan. 23-24, said that of this RMB 100-million yuan grant (equivalent to US$15 million), the Department of Health (DOH) has requested that half be used for building drug rehabilitation centers.

“During our meeting with Chinese Commerce Ministry officials, we noted the progress in our bilateral dialogue mechanisms and cooperation arrangements. We expect to see more bilateral consultations in the coming months,” Dominguez said.

“We have also confirmed our intention to avail of the RMB50 million-yuan grant for the provision of drug rehab facilities for the DOH during our meeting with China Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng,” he added.

The remaining half of the grant is intended to procure additional law enforcement equipment for the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to strengthen the government’s war against the drug scourge, Dominguez said.

Besides drug rehab facilities, Dominguez said the Philippine delegation has also asked Chinese officials to consider supporting, through grant financing, the construction of health centers in rural areas, particularly in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

“The Chinese side has already began a preliminary feasibility study on the drug rehabilitation center and plans to send an expert team to the Philippines,” Dominguez said.

On behalf of the Philippine government, Dominguez signed three agreements with China during President Duterte’s state visit to that country last October.

These included an Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation that will provide Manila with a RMB100 million-yuan grant to implement projects for “anti-illegal drugs and law enforcement security cooperation.”

The other two are Memoranda of Understanding on (1) providing financing support to the Philippines in undertaking feasibility studies for big-ticket projects in infrastructure, agriculture and rural development and on (2) financing cooperation with the Export-Import Bank of China (China EXIM), which would allow the Philippines to tap China EXIM funds for its major projects.

A total of 12 government-to-government agreements were forged between the two countries during President Duterte’s state visit to China.

Dominguez has pointed out that the generous assistance offered by China to the Philippines is among the concrete results of the President’s foreign policy rebalancing towards accelerated integration with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and its major Asian trading partners.

“The President has recognized the importance of China in the region and he has redirected our economy more towards China and the ASEAN than to the West. I believe that China will continue to lead the world and continue to lead the ASEAN in becoming the engine of global growth,” Dominguez said.

Alongside Dominguez, the top-level Philippine team that visited Beijing last Jan. 23-24 included Secretaries Benjamin Diokno of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Arthur Tugade of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), Mark Villar of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH); and Director-General Ernesto Pernia of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

NEDA deputy director-general Rolando Tungpalan, DPWH Undersecretaries Emil Sadain and Karen Jimeno, and Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) president-CEO Vivencio Dizon were also part of the delegation.

Joining them were DOF Assistant Secretaries Ma. Edita Tan and Mark Dennis Joven, DOTr Assistant Secretaries Leah Merida Quiambao and Cesar Chavez, and Assistant Secretary Julia Nebrija of the Metro Manila Development Authority.

The Jan. 23-24 meetings between the Philippine delegation and top-ranking Chinese officials covered discussions on the progress of government-to-government agreements signed between the two countries; the proposed priority infrastructure projects for financing and feasibility studies; the chairmanship of the Philippines this year of the ASEAN; and possible Chinese private sector investments in the Philippines.

The Dominguez-led delegation submitted a total of 40 “large and small” infrastructure projects to China for possible loan financing and assistance in conducting feasibility studies, during the Jan. 23-24 mission.

Dominguez said the meeting of the high-level Philippine team with officials of China’s Commerce Ministry was a “productive first step towards achieving the desire of (Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping)” in further reinforcing ties between the two countries."

Of the 40 projects, 15 are being proposed for loan financing while another 25 were submitted for feasibility study support.

Three of these large-scale projects are worth $3.4 billion combined. These are the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project in the provinces of Cagayan and Kalinga with an estimated total project cost of $53.6 million; the New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project in Quezon, $374.03 million; and the South Line of the North-South Railway running from Manila to Legaspi City in Bicol, $3.01 billion.

Dominguez said the other projects on the list are relatively small in scale, and are easier to implement, such as the construction of bridges across the Pasig River to ease traffic congestion in Metro Manila.

He said the generous assistance offered by China to the Philippines is among the concrete results of the President’s foreign policy rebalancing towards accelerated integration with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and its major Asian trading partners.

Dominguez said that amid global uncertainty over a possible overhaul of US trade policies under the new presidency of Donald Trump, it was a “very smart” move by President Duterte to recalibrate the Philippines’ foreign policy early on and reorient the economy toward greater integration with its Asian neighbors. (DOF)

- See more at: http://news.pia.gov.ph/article/view/1141485653864/phl-to-tap-rmb100-m-grant-from-china-for-drug-rehab-facilities-public-security-programs#sthash.CutEdxRg.dpuf


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