DAVAO CITY, May 16 – President Rodrigo Duterte arrived here before dawn Tuesday from his week-long official visits to Cambodia, Hongkong and Beijing in China. He described as “windfall” the fresh investments he drew from his latest foreign trips, particularly from the Chinese government.
Duterte, who arrived at around 3:00 a.m at the Davao International Airport, announced several commitments, particularly from Chinese President Xi Jinping, which include a RMB500 million grant to conduct feasibility studies on major infrastructure projects in the country.
”I return with a renewed sense of belief that, indeed, the future of the Philippines is in ASEAN and in Asia,” he said in his arrival speech.
The President said he was able to seek the support of “all stakeholders in the ASEAN region” at the World Economic Forum to invest in Southeast Asia, banking on its growing economy, natural resources and work force.
”Southeast Asia now stands at the center of the future of the Asia-Pacific,” he pointed out, adding that “responsible economic partners are our new allies in nation building and regional integration.”
“Working with them, we can narrow the development gap,” he said.
He highlighted the country’s “Build, Build, Build” program to enhance the country’s development, which could further pave the way to attract investors to locate in the country.
Duterte said his message drew support, particularly the Philippine government’s commitment to provide the enabling environment for businesses to thrive. He also mentioned the government’s effort to address criminality, curb corruption and compliance to contractual obligations.
“In short, I told them that it is no longer business as usual in the Philippines. The commitments are clear and the interests were articulated in my meetings with business leaders,” he said.
The President reiterated that the government will strengthen efforts to harness investments, both domestic and foreign, for the development of the people.
Duterte also highlighted his meetings with a “larger group of partners in Beijing that could open more opportunities.”
”With One Belt and One Road or OBOR, we have opportunities to synergize our efforts to bring progress and prosperity and the peace and stability that our peoples and our region deserve,” he said. He said OBOR can be a parallel platform for growth in the region.
The President also emphasized his successful meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, where they reaffirmed the commitment to build on the gains of his state visit last year. They also decided to accelerate the implementation of infrastructure projects previously agreed.
“China is very liberal and generous,” the President said during the press conference.
He announced that there is already about RMB100 million coming in aside from the RMB500 million grant for feasibility studies.
” It’s in the blueprint (but) I don’t know at what stage. They will start on the two bridges to expand the Pasig River. These two bridges are “gratis.” It’s a grant. It’s a… no payment, sort of a donation,” Duterte told reporters.
He said the Chinese are also eager to start the railway project this year.
The President was hopeful that everything will go on smoothly and will start before the end of the year.