Duterte’s triumph

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    THREE years into President Duterte’s independent foreign policy, after countless blocking fouls and body contact calls against the adversaries, the Philippine-China team scores several slam dunks again.

    The biggest goal is the creation of the intergovernmental joint committee and the working group between the relevant enterprises on oil and gas cooperation that will substantiate the progress in the joint exploration of oil and gas projects between the two countries in the jointly claimed areas of the South China Sea.

    The creation of these bodies will propel the development of the Reed Bank’s oil and gas resources. At the expected 60/40 sharing in favor of the Philippines, this cooperation is a template other Asean claimants can emulate.

    Equally significant is the P15 billion loan from China for the Philippines’ mega-Build, Build, Build to begin the P170 billion 600-km. South Rail Long-haul train project of the Philippine National Railway from Manila to Legaspi and Matnog, Sorsogon.

    The third slam dunk is the package of five Memorandums of Understanding and Cooperation between the Commission on Higher Education and China’ Ministry of Education, the DOST and China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, the Bureau of Customs and China’s General Administration of Customs including the China-Aid Container Inspection Equipment, and the Exchange of Notes on Cooperation Procedure for the Availment and Utilization of Concessional Loan Facility between the DOF and the CIDCA (China International Development Cooperation Agency).

    All these achievements have been accomplished in a record time of three years, from the time of the first visit of President Duterte to China in October 2016, and overcoming the delays and obstructions thrown along the way.

    China has shown maximum resilience in dealing with the rambunctious intrusions into diplomatic engagements of the two nations, while President Duterte triumphed with his firm determination to deliver the goods to the nation. DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin introduced a pre-emptive media diplomacy that helped dissipate the problems.

    Capping the positive developments is the apology expressed by the Chinese vessel owner through the Guangdong Fishery Mutual Insurance Association (GFMIA) for its sideswiping of the Filipino fishing vessel GemVer last June, and advising the Philippine side to file “a specific appeal for civil compensation.” This puts to rest any doubt about its being an accident and the dutiful response of the Chinese party.

    Duterte’s recent visit to Beijing pushed the close ties between the two countries even closer.

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