Duterte wants P4 billion from China spent for hospitals in Mindanao

PH and China ink six bilateral agreements

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday, April 13 said he wants the P4 billion in assistance from China to be used for repairing and equipping hospitals in Mindanao, particularly in Jolo and Basilan.

Earlier this week, Duterte left for back-to-back trips to China and Hong Kong, taking home billions-worth of economic and infrastructure assistance from the Chinese government.

Upon his arrival at the Davao International Airport on Friday, April 13, the president said he prefers the money to be used for medical matters.

“I would suggest hospitals. The first one is I will repair and equip the hospitals in the south, particularly in Jolo and Basilan. They don’t have CT Scan, MRI—and competent doctors,” Duterte told reporters.

He also pointed out that medical needs are more urgent, “not like infrastructure that you can put off some other day.”

According to the president, there are no strings attached to the assistance from China, saying: “The 500 [million] renminbi, that’s gratis. It’s P4 billion straight gratis.”

Duterte met with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday, April 10 at the sidelines of the Boao Forum for Asia in the southern province of Hainan, China.

During the meeting, the Philippine and Chinese governments also inked six bilateral agreements.

These include economic and technical cooperation; the establishment of the third phase of the Filipino-Sino Center for Agricultural Technology; and the pre-feasibility study of the proposed expressway in Duterte’s home city of Davao.

Also signed were the exchange of letters for broadcasting equipment for the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO); a loan agreement for the Chico River pump irrigation project; and a memorandum of understanding on the employment of Filipino teachers of the English language in China.

According to Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, both Duterte and Xi have also given a “go signal” for the crafting of a framework for the proposed joint oil and gas exploration in the West Philippine Sea.

Despite the latest developments, Cayetano assured that the Philippines will not give up on its claims in the South China Sea. He also noted that Beijing has never asked Manila to give up on its territorial claims.

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