Palace confident Philippines won't default on its loan with China
alacanang expressed confidence on Monday the Philippines would not default from its loan with China.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement following the warning of Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio that Beijing could seize natural gas deposits in Reed Bank or Recto Bank, which is being claimed by the Philippines, if Manila failed to pay its $62-million loan with China on the Chico irrigation project.
"Number one, why should we default? We never defaulted from any obligations to any international organization with respect to loans of our country. We always pay," he said in a press briefing.
Carpio, in a recent forum in a university in Manila, cited that under the loan agreement with China, the Philippines “irrevocably waives any immunity on the grounds of sovereign or otherwise for itself or its property in connection with any arbitration proceeding…or with the enforcement of any arbitral award.”
Panelo, also the chief presidential legal counsel, admitted that he had not read the loan agreement with China on the irrigation project.
However, he said it was just natural for a borrower to agree on terms and conditions set by the lender, otherwise, the former should not borrow.
Likening the Philippine loan to China to a bank transaction, Panelo said, "When we loan from the bank, it's always the terms of the bank. It's natural that they will make sure that they won't lose from the loan that they have been extending to us."
He said the Philippine loan to China on the irrigation project was just a small amount and Manila would not "renege" on it.
The Philippines and China have been engaged in a territorial dispute in the South China Sea. Despite the favorable ruling by the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal on the Philippine petition against China's historic and sovereign claim over the almost entire South China Sea, the Duterte administration refused to insist on the decision as it decided to take a softer stance with Beijing.
On the recent reports that the Chinese coast guards have been shooing away the Filipino fishermen in Scarborough Shoal off Masinloc, Zambales, asked if the Palace did not see any problem on this, Panelo said, "Can we do anything? They have the control as of now. They have the forces there."
"We can only protest like any other countries, which have claim (in the area), like Vietnam...as of now, that's the only thing we can do. You want us to declare war against them?" he said.
Panelo just echoed Duterte's latest statement regarding China.
"China? What do you want? Do you want us to go to war tomorrow. Because if that’s what you want --- that’s what I want also. I have plenty of ammunition. We can go to war tomorrow but on the first punch that we’ll throw in Palawan, nothing, they would have hit us all by then," Duterte said in a speech Sunday night in Cagayan de Oro City during the campaign rally of the senatorial bets of the ruing PDP-Laban.
"Manila can be reached by the cruise missile of the Chinese in seven minutes. Manila will explode. So if we go there, and if we want to retreat, we won’t have anywhere to go to. We’ll be huddling up in Palawan. There are so many mosquitoes there," he added. Celerina Monte/DMS