Phl, China ink US$219M management consultancy loan for Manila-Bicol railway

Robie de Guzman   •   August 30, 2019   •   2218

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is accompanied by People’s Republic of China President Xi Jinping inside the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing prior to their bilateral meeting on August 29, 2019. REY BANIQUET/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines and China have signed an agreement for US$219.78 million Preferential Buyer’s Credit facility to fund the project management consultancy for the railway project that will connect Manila and Bicol.

In a news release, the Department of Finance (DOF) said President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping witnessed the signing of the loan deal between DOF Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Export-Import Bank of China Vice President Xie Ping at the Diaoyutai State Guest House in Beijing on Thursday.

The dollar-denominated loan has an interest rate of 2 percent per annum with a maturity period of 20 years, inclusive of a 7-year grace period, the DOF said.

The infrastructure project, called Philippine National Railways (PNR) South Long Haul Project under the administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program, will link Metro Manila to Legazpi, Albay; Legazpi to Matnog in Sorsogon; and Calamba, Laguna to Batangas City.

The DOF said that under the agreement, the services to be rendered by the project management consultancy cover the detailed engineering and design; preparation of the terms of reference and bidding documents for a design and build procurement for the civil works, rolling stock and electromechanical system, as well as the construction supervision.

The project management consultant will also provide tender assistance including the market study, administration of the limited competitive bidding, and tender award to the contractors and suppliers.

Duterte and Xi also witnessed the exchange of notes between Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi confirming the cooperation procedures and arrangements that will enable the Philippines to avail of Chinese concessional loans under a renminbi-denominated loan facility.

This loan facility between the DOF and the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) is seen to help the Duterte administration’s major projects promote economic and social development.

Two accords were also signed by Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero of the Philippines’ Bureau of Customs (BOC) with Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan and Minister Ni Yuefeng of the General Administration of Customs of China (GACC).

These are the Implementation Agreement with the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) on China’s donation of four mobile x-ray container vehicle inspection systems and two luggage inspection systems to the Philippines, and a separate intergovernmental accord with GACC defining the scope and guidelines that aim to strengthen the cooperation and mutual assistance on customs matters between the two countries.

Dominguez earlier said the agreement on cooperation and mutual assistance covers GACC’s commitment to assist the BOC in monitoring and stopping the entry into the Philippines of unauthorized cigarette-making machines from China.

The Finance Secretary directed the BOC and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) earlier this year to work with their respective counterparts in China to stop the illicit entry of cigarette-making machines being used to manufacture fake tobacco products in the country.

Dominguez issued the order after confirming from the BIR that the illegal tobacco trade has shifted from smuggling cigarettes to producing locally counterfeit brands using undocumented cigarette-making machines.

Guerrero had earlier raised concern over the entry of illicit cigarette-making machines to the Chinese vice minister of the GACC during the sidelines of the 28th ASEAN Customs Directors-General Meeting held last June in Laos.

UK to increase visa rights if China pursues Hong Kong security law

UNTV News   •   May 29, 2020

The United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and Canada scolded China on Thursday (May 28) for imposing a new security law that they said would threaten freedom and breach a 1984 Sino-British agreement on the autonomy of the former colony.

British foreign minister Dominic Raab said the four countries were “deeply troubled” by the decision of China’s People’s Congress, which democracy activists in Hong Kong fear could erode its freedoms and jeopardise its role as a global financial hub.

China says the legislation will aim to tackle secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference in the city but the plan, unveiled in Beijing last week, triggered the first big protests in Hong Kong for months.

Raab said Britain will give greater visa rights to British national overseas (BNO) passport holders from Hong Kong unless China suspends the proposed security laws. (Reuters)

(Production: Ben Dangerfield)

China’s parliament approves Hong Kong national security bill

UNTV News   •   May 28, 2020

China’s National People’s Congress’ third session closed on Thursday (May 28) after parliament members voted on a proposal to implement Hong Kong’s national security legislation.

“The session made a decision to establish a legal system and enforcement mechanism for the national security of Hong Kong’s Special Administrative Region,” chairman of the standing committee of the NPC, Li Zhanshu, told delegates at the closing ceremony.

“It will uphold and improve the ‘one country, two systems’ policy. It is in line with the Constitution and Hong Kong’s Basic Law and is in the interest of all Chinese people including Hong Kong people,” he added.

The legislation received 2,878 votes while one voted against and six abstained. The draft national security law has received international criticism with the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declaring that Hong Kong is ‘no longer autonomous.’

Hong Kong, which has freedoms not granted in the mainland such as freedom of assembly and freedom of the press, has experienced months-long anti-government protests which sparked from a now-withdrawn extradition bill. (Reuters)

(Production: Joyce Zhou, Pak Yiu)

Hong Kong leader says security laws will not affect city’s rights and freedoms

UNTV News   •   May 26, 2020

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday (May 26) that Beijing’s proposed national security laws would not trample on the city’s rights and freedoms and called on its citizens to wait to see the details of the legislation.

Beijing unveiled plans last week for national security legislation for Hong Kong that aims to tackle secession, subversion and terrorist activities. It could see Chinese intelligence agencies set up bases in the city.

Thousands poured onto the street of Hong Kong on Sunday (May 24) in a mass protest against the planned new security laws.

Police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd and arrested almost 200 people.

More protests are expected in Hong Kong on Wednesday (May 27). (Reuters)

(Production: Joyce Zhou)

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