President Rodrigo Duterte has asked China to help patrol the high seas to combat maritime piracy and kidnapping, especially in the southern Philippines.
In his speech during the oath-taking of promoted military officials in Malacañang on Tuesday, Duterte revealed that a special emissary from Indonesia arrived in the country to discuss the recent kidnapping of three Indonesian fishermen by the Abu Sayyaf Group.
“I just reminded him that we have this agreement. We have this understanding. Put it into practice. Allow more ships,” Duterte said, referring to joint patrol agreements between the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia.
“And by the way, I also asked China. They can’t patrol international waters without necessarily intruding into the territorial waters of countries. We would be glad if they have their presence there,” he added.
Duterte noted that China’s move to expand its role in anti-piracy patrols in the seas off Somalia was helpful in preventing maritime crime.
“It doesn’t have to be gray ships. I said even the coast guard cutter [is okay]. Just to patrol like what they did in Somalia. They should help. Somalia has toned down,” he said.
On Sunday, the President sought China’s help to help boost the country’s military weaponry after he ordered “full-press” government offensive against Islamic State-linked groups in Mindanao.
Duterte said he had sent an “urgent message” to China to help his administration by providing “precision-guided arms.”
“The situation in Mindanao, as you know the greatest danger now that mankind is facing is really extremism… The [IS] is recruiting everybody. The [IS], come hell or high water, they will establish the caliphate,” he warned.
Ranking Chinese officials pledged their full support for speedy implementation of projects presented by a high-level delegation from Manila for Beijing’s possible financing.
The Philippine delegation led by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd recently met with Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng.
Gao said the Chinese government “would like to continue to enhance the mutual trust and the mutual understanding with our Filipino colleagues in order to further expand and deepen our practical cooperation.”
He added that China seeks a “healthy and stable development” of the bilateral relations between the two countries.
“I absolutely agree with the proposals of all the ministers. We two countries need to strengthen our cooperation,” Gao said.
In the meeting, the Filipino and Chinese officials agreed to reconvene the Joint Commission on Economic and Trade Cooperation (JCETC) in February to ensure close coordination and further promote bilateral cooperation between the two countries.
The Philippines submitted 40 “large and small” infrastructure projects for China’s possible loan financing.
Three of the large-scale projects are worth $3.4 billion. These are the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project in the provinces of Cagayan and Kalinga, the New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project in Quezon and the South Line of the North-South Railway running from Manila to Legazpi City (Albay) in Bicol. With PNA