China funding eyed for 2 Visayas, Mindanao bridges
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government is seeking possible financing assistance from China for the implementation of two big-ticket bridge projects in Visayas and Mindanao.
During a meeting with Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan in Beijing, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said the Davao-Samal Bridge Project and the Panay-Guimaras-Negros Inter-island Bridge Projects were some of the projects in the pipeline for possible funding assistance from Beijing.
The Davao-Samal bridge construction project in Mindanao is part of the first basket of infrastructure projects the Philippines proposed for loan assistance from China.
It seeks to reduce the travel time between Davao City and Samal Island to only two to five minutes.
The detailed study and design for the project is undertaken under the Infrastructure Preparation and Innovation Facility funded by the Asian Development Bank.
On the other hand, the Panay-Guimaras-Negros Inter-island Bridge project was included in the second batch of projects submitted by Manila to Beijing.
It is one of the bridges planned by the Philippine government to improve the interconnectivity among Visayas Islands and to stimulate growth in the region.
The Chinese government has already agreed to extend a $13.4 million grant for the feasibility of the project.
Beijing has pledged $9 billion in assistance to the Philippines during President Duterte’s visit in October 2016.
Since then, Dominguez said the Duterte administration has made “significant progress” in the implementation of China-funded infrastructure projects.
“We have been meeting with the Ministry of Commerce of China (MOFCOM) for the past two years, and we have made a lot of progress with our actual official development assistance relations with China,” Dominguez said during the meeting with Wang.
The finance chief cited the Binondo-Intramuros and Estrella-Pantaleon bridges which being are implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to help ease traffic in Metro Manila.
These bridges are being funded through a 397 million renminbi ($63.13 million) grant from China.
Dominguez said both countries are also moving towards the construction of two rail projects -- the Subic-Clark railway project in Luzon and the Mindanao railway project.
Beijing extended a $62.09 million loan for the Chico river pump irrigation project and another $211.21 milion loan for the New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam project.
“We want to assure you that the funds provided by the Chinese people through the Chinese government are going to be used to the benefit of the Filipino people,” Dominguez said.
In a separate meeting, Finance Undersecretary Mark Dennis Joven discussed with officials of the Export-Import Bank of China (China-EXIM) the status of additional infrastructure projects that are proposed for Chinese financing.
“Both sides discussed the updates of ongoing projects, as well as those in the pipeline. The Chinese side also conveyed its continuing commitment to support the infrastructure projects of the Philippines, including its openness to provide available sources of financing for other projects,” he said.
Joven also led a Philippine delegation to meet with China International Development Cooperation Agency chairman Wang Xiaotao to discuss “the general arrangements in project financing and ways on how to expedite the processing of projects for Chinese financing.”