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6 other Philippines-China projects delayed; Senate reviewing deals

MANILA, Philippines — After the Philippines withdrew its request for official development assistance from China for a railway project, six other projects under ODA have also been delayed, according to Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian.

“We convened an oversight on ODA, so I know that many of the ODA-funded projects are delayed due to the implementation of the right of way and bidding,” Gatchalian said over the weekend in Filipino in an interview with radio dzBB.

“Consider the economics and if the benefits outweigh the costs. Will it be cheaper and will the benefits be better? We need to balance it. Debt is never free, we need to pay for it,” he added.

The six China projects funded under ODA are the Mindanao Railway Project Tagum-Davao-Digos segment; closed-circuit television project in the cities of Marikina, Parañaque, Pasig, San Juan and Valenzuela; New Centennial Water Source — Kaliwa Dam Project; Philippine National Railways South Long Haul Project or the PNR Bicol; Samal Island-Davao City Connector project and the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project.

“We should study the ODA based on the economy, interest rates and grace period. These are the important aspects. Geopolitics, that’s just the third. Are there greater benefits when it comes to economic activities?” Gatchalian said.

The Department of Finance earlier informed Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian that the Philippines’ request for ODA from Beijing for the P83-billion Mindanao Railway Phase 1 was being pulled out.

Gatchalian said the government should consider getting loans from Japan instead of China.

“China’s grace period is shorter with only five to seven years compared to Japan with five to almost 10 years, which means (with China) we would need to immediately pay and it would be more expensive. Let’s compare the economics, it is cheaper in Japan,” he explained.

Aside from Japan, Gatchalian said European countries, South Korea, the World Bank and Asian Development Bank provide better loads and assistance to the Philippines under their respective ODAs.

As for the conflict between China and the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea, Gatchalian said the conflict could possibly have something to do with delays in