MANILA, Philippines – China gave 500 million renminbi (P4 billion) in economic assistance to the Philippines during President Rodrigo Duterte's recent trip there.
If Duterte had his way, he said he would use the money to repair hospitals and purchase medical equipment for Jolo in Sulu province and Basilan.
"The 500 [million] renminbi, that's gratis. It's P4 billion straight, gratis. This time, I will ask maybe permission from Congress...but I would suggest hospitals," he said on Friday, April 13.
He was speaking at a press conference upon his arrival at the Davao International Airport from back-to-back trips to China and Hong Kong.
"The first one is, I will repair and equip hospitals in the south, particularly in Jolo and Basilan. They don't have CT Scan, MRI – and competent doctors," said the Philippine leader.
He prefers the money be used in this manner instead of funding infrastructure projects, which the President are not so urgent.
"I want to give it first to those who really urgently have immediate needs. Not like infrastructure that you can put off some other day," said Duterte.
Aside from the P4 billion "grant," Duterte's trip also yielded 5 signed documents between the Philippine and Chinese governments, including a Memorandum of Understanding on the hiring of 2,000 Filipino English teachers in China and exchange of letters on the proposed Davao City Expressway.
Ten Chinese companies also formally expressed their intent to invest in the Philippines. The investments, if they push through, are worth P9 billion. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.