MANILA, Philippines – Despite sea disputes and after controversial projects ZTE and Northrail, the economic ties between Philippines and China were in full display on Tuesday, July 17, at a simple ceremony in Bulacan.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III led the inauguration of the P6.1 billion Angat aqueduct improvement project, and thanked China for extending US$116-million loan to finance it.
“Nagpapasalamat po tayo sa pondong ipinagkaloob ng bansang Tsina upang maisakatuparan ang mahalagang proyektong ito. Tunay nga pong sa maigting na ugnayan ng magkakaratig-bayan, mas mabilis nating natutugunan ang mga problema at mas napaglilingkuran ang ating mamamayan. (We would like to thank China for funding this important project. This is proof that strong relationship between neighbors allows us to quickly address problems and serve our citizens),” he said in his speech.
The repair of the water channel was completed 8 months ahead of the March 2013 deadline. Rappler has reported that the project followed the Philippine procurement process, which requires a bidding. In previous projects involving China, it insisted on nominating a Chinese contractor or supplier, resulting in problems in or stalling of the projects down the road.
After Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) conducted a bidding in 2009, it awarded the contract to China International Water & Electricity Co (CWE), a unit of the Chinese state firm behind the Three Gorges Project, the world’s biggest hydropower project. In 2010, loan negotiations between the Philippines’ Department of Finance and the Export-Import Bank of China were completed. The project implementation started that year.
The repair works will help improve the flow of the about 394 million liters of water per day from Angat dam to treatment facilities and distribution pipes that serve about 15 million Filipinos in Metro Manila, Rizal and Cavite.
“The plugged leaks in the aqueducts will help make the water reach additional 6 million Filipinos living in Rizal, Cavite and Bulacan,” he added.
President Aquino also underscored the reforms implemented at MWSS, which was plagued with extravagant executive and directors compensation that he mentioned in his previous State of the Nation Address (Sona).
“Ibinalik din ninyo ang integridad sa inyong tanggapan. Kung dati, halos ipang-mumog lamang ng mga taga-MWSS ang sandamakmak at di-makatwirang bonus, ngayon, tinatapalan na po natin ang tagas sa pondo ng tanggapan, upang ang ating mga Boss talaga—ang taumbayan—ang siyang makinabang. (The integrity of your office has returned. After the top MWSS officials took advantage of their office through high bonuses, you are now “plugging the leaks” of your offices’ finances),” he said, addressing MWSS Chairman Dondie Alikpala at Administrator Gerry Esquivel.
He said the reforms at MWSS have helped convert the P34 million loses in 2010 into P330 million gain in 2011.
President Aquino will deliver his 3rd Sona on July 23
Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing also attended the event. but preferred not to comment about either the project or the ongoing dispute between Manila and Beijing.
“Maybe as I said, some other time I am more prepared asking questions,” she said when reporters approached her after Aquino’s speech. – Rappler.com