MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED)– President Rodrigo Duterte’s PDP-Laban will send a delegation to Beijing on January 22 to meet with officials from China’s ruling Communist Party, according to a motion to travel filed before the Sandiganbayan by party member Efraim Genuino.
Genuino submitted the motion to the anti-graft court’s Third Division on Wednesday, January 11, stating that he was invited by PDP-Laban to join them from January 22-25 to travel to Beijing.
According to Genuino’s motion, the Beijing visit “will deepen exchanges and cooperation, boost mutual trust and friendship for sound and stable progress in China-Philippines strategic and cooperative relationship for peace and development.”
PDP-Laban President Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III confirmed the meeting. “We want to keep this as an internal party matter as there will not be any adverse effect on the state whatsoever. Very simple objective, which is strengthening of ties between the two parties,” Pimentel told Rappler in a text message.
Genuino’s motion stated that Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi will lead the PDP-Laban delegation.
Cusi said he will be attending the meeting as an Energy Secretary tasked to “improve our overall energy development efforts, gain knowledge from their best practices, and hopefully attract investments in our local energy projects.”
In a statement sent to media, Cusi said: “The China trip is borne out of a gracious invitation from the Chinese Ambassador HE Zhao Jianhua. The DOE is fortunate to have the opportunity to touch base with our counterparts in China’s own ministry of energy.
Genuino, who formerly headed the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) is the current finance committee chairman of PDP-Laban.
He is facing separate graft and perjury charges, both of which he has posted bail for.
Pivot to China
This meeting appears to reinforce Duterte’s independent foreign policy which veers away from longtime ally United States and leans toward China. During his state visit to China in October last year, Duterte announced that both countries had achieved full recovery of ties. (READ: Duterte’s ‘China pivot’ draws int’l reactions)
The President also announced the renewed pursuit of bilateral talks over the West Philippine Sea territorial dispute, something that China had always wanted but which Duterte’s predecessor refused to give.
Instead, former president Benigno Aquino III filed a case against Beijing before an arbitral tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands and won.
Duterte said there will be “no hard impositions” on China with regard to the ruling, but gave assurances he would not strike any bargains with the super power on the West Philippine Sea. In December, however, Duterte floated the idea of sharing oil in the disputed waters. – Rappler.com
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