The Philippines’ president-elect Rodrigo Duterte may seek China’s help in funding nationwide railway projects. (Photo : Getty Images)
Filipino president-elect Rodrigo Duterte may seek help from China in building a railway system for the archipelago as the incoming leader opens new opportunities for better Sino-Philippine ties.
Before he was proclaimed on Monday, May 30, Duterte had been the subject of several Chinese media reports that particularly cover his position on the maritime disputes in the South China Sea.
Now, the Global Times, one of China’s most influential media outlets, was told that the incoming Filipino president, who was known for his tough-talks during his campaign, is considering asking China for help in terms of creating a nationwide railway system for his country.
China’s Help in Railway Projects
Filipino journalist Herman Tiu Laurel told the Global Times via an email that Duterte is considering rekindling “the Philippines’ thousand-year-old friendship with China” in order to gain help from the Asian giant for projects that would actually help the Filipino people.
According to the Global Times, establishing a reliable railway system for the archipelago is one of Duterte’s biggest projects.
However, the country lacks funding for such a huge public transportation plan that would connect Manila to Nueva Ecija in the north and to Sorsogon and Batangas in South Luzon, and the entire Mindanao region.
Duterte knows this for a fact, which is why he said, “maybe China” would be able to help him accomplish the task, in an interview with the press on Saturday.
According to Update Philippines, the Philippines’ president-elect does not want the railway project to be part of a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) because it would be contentious.
Also, he believes that it would be quicker if the railway was owned by the Philippine government to maintain service-orientation of the railway system and avoid any conflict of interest.
Stance on South China Sea Territory
Despite this, Duterte remains firm in his position regarding the South China Sea maritime dispute, where both the Philippines and China are claiming the rights to the Scarborough Shoal and Spratly Islands.
In Saturday’s press interview, Duterte clarified that the Philippines will not abandon its territory in the South China Sea.
“Just because you are building me a railway doesn’t mean I’m abandoning Scarborough Shoal,” Duterte said in his usual quirky manner of speaking. “I told you, that is ours, you have no right to be there. Whether you believe it or not, fine by me, but that will be the predicate of any further discussions about those territory of ours.”
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