By Genalyn Kabiling
China is planning to start the construction of five infrastructure projects in the Philippines before the end of the year amid the enhanced bilateral ties between the two allies.
Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana said China-funded infrastructure projects include the donation of two bridges to ease traffic conditions in Metro Manila.
The three other projects, funded by China’s official development assistance, are the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project in Cagayan and Kalinga provinces, New Centennial Water Source Kaliwa-Dam Project, and the North-South Railway Project (NSRP)-South Line.
“The idea is for the feasibility studies to be completed and for the actual work on the ground to start before the end of the year. The plan is to start work at least five projects,” Sta. Romana said in a media interview at the Philippine Embassy in Beijing, China.
The green light for these infrastructure projects was obtained following the resumption of the Philippine-China bilateral trade and economic cooperation mechanism.
Sta. Romana said such bilateral mechanism was previously “frozen” and went in “a state of hiatus” amid the unresolved maritime dispute. “So the different areas of bilateral cooperation are now functioning again,” he said.
Sta. Romana said the construction of the Binondo-Intramuros and Estrella-Pantaleon bridges across the Pasig River would be bankrolled in the form of grant, not a loan from China.
“This is part of the Duterte administration’s infrastructure program, the Build, Build, Build Program, the golden age of infrastructure to relieve the traffic congestion in Metro Manila,” he said. “The work will resume before the end of the year,” he added.