By Rodolfo Andal
MALAYBALAY City, Bukidnon – Malacañang on Friday, stressed that the country’s renewed friendship with China has brought forth collaborative undertakings that are beneficial to the Filipino people.
“We’re very happy that we have this newfound cooperation that has resulted in collaborative undertakings from bridges to rehab facilities,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr. said in a press briefing here on the sidelines of the inauguration of the Northern Mindanao Wellness and Reintegration Center (NMWRC).
The NMWRC, which is said to be the largest drug treatment and rehabilitation facility in Mindanao, was financed and donated by Chinese-owned Friends of the Philippines Foundation (FPF), in cooperation with the Philippine government.
Roque said the center is expected to provide rehabilitation and skills training facilities for Filipino drug addicts, with the end goal of making them productive members of society in the future.
Moreover, the Palace Spokesperson stressed that the initiative was made possible through the improved relationship between the Philippines and China, which he said has “entered the best level in history and will continue to be even better.”
“I think the Philippine-Chinese relationship is at its renaissance. It is at its best. This wellness center is in fact evidence that this cooperation can in fact bear fruits,” Roque said.
“Driven by the support of the Chinese government to the Philippine government’s anti-drug campaign, the Chinese-funded Friends of the Philippines Foundation has made a major contribution to the Philippines’ anti-drug campaign,” he added.
Roque further expressed hope that the two governments would continue to work together in future projects.
Just last week, two China-funded bridges had their groundbreaking ceremony in Manila, the Palace official mentioned.
Furthermore, Roque clarified that China’s openness to a 60-40 joint exploration with the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea is allowed under the country’s Constitution.
“We are following the specific provision in the Constitution that foreigners can participate on a 60-40 basis, meaning 60-percent Filipino and 40-percent foreign-owned,” he said.
He also reacted to reports that China wants to conduct joint military exercises with Southeast Asian nations in disputed waters, stressing that defense authorities would study the matter seriously.
“We find nothing objectionable to the fact that China would want to exclude non-Asians from the military exercise. I think the contemplation of Chinese authorities is to have military cooperation amongst neighbors,” Roque noted.
“Of course, the United States is 10,000 miles away. So if the intention is to build stronger relations between military forces who are neighbors, then the United States would really be out of place,” he added.
‘Palace welcomes Moody’s positive outlook on PH economic growth’
During the same press briefing, Malacañang welcomed the positive outlook of Moody’s Investors Service, stating that the Philippines is expected to sustain its robust economic growth over the next few years.
Roque said the credit rating firm attributed the growth to the government’s focus on infrastructure development.
Citing data from the Budget Department, he said government’s infrastructure spending from January to June 2018 reached an amount of PhP352.7 billion, a 41.6-percent increase from last year’s PhP249.1 billion during the same period.
“This only goes to show that our Build, Build, Build program continues to provide favorable results for the country,” Roque said.