THE increasing number of Philippine offshore gaming operators and the questionable selection of state-run China Communications Construction Co. as joint venture partner in the Sangley Point International Airport project continue to raise concerns about the administration’s China pivot and its corresponding national security risks.
The Senate has already conducted inquiries into Chinese control of key industries and infrastructure. Senators Francis Pangilinan and Grace Poe and former senator Chiz Escudero had earlier raised questions on ChinaTel’s memorandum of agreement with the Armed Forces on the co-location of communications facilities in security-sensitive military camps.
Educator and policy adviser Richard Heydarian also wrote of the “transactional acquiescence to China” as reflected in President Duterte’s statement to shut up on the West Philippine Sea disputes if China builds railways around Mindanao, Bicol and Batangas.
A critical part of the country’s infrastructure, the $10 billion Sangley Point International Airport has raised alarm from various sectors as the joint venture selection process for the project is seen to favor a consortium that includes state-run China Communications Construction Co.
Along with the China Civil Engineering Construction Corp. and China State Construction Engineering Corp. (China Railway International Group), a total of infrastructure projects estimated at $100 billion are already in Chinese hands.
Last December, CCCC teamed up with MacroAsia Corp. to become the sole consortium vying for the project as six other bidders, including Manny Villar’s Prime Asset Ventures, all backed out.
The CCCC consortium aims to partner with the Cavite government to transform the former US naval base into a world-class air hub serving more than 100 million passengers a year, three times the capacity of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
Defense experts, however, worry about China establishing an air infrastructure foothold just 35 kilometers away from Manila. Such fears have been heightened by CCCC’s role in building islands for Chinese military facilities in contested waters in the South China Sea.
Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla also said the province was taking national security concerns seriously. The provincial government will recommend to the Philippine Air Force the use of the SPIA “to assert our sovereignty over the development.”