Beijing urged to throw out Philippine rail contract
The Philippines has asked China to throw out the present contract involving the controversial Chinese-funded NorthRail project in Manila and has proposed that Manila be allowed to conduct a bidding exclusively for Chinese contractors.
Department of Transportation and Communications Secretary Mar Roxas told Philippine media yesterday of details of a meeting that Philippine President Benigno Aquino had with President Hu Jintao on Wednesday. Roxas said Aquino had conveyed the request for the bidding.
If Chinese authorities agreed to the proposal, 'it will be bid out among accredited, experienced Chinese railway-construction companies, because it's their money that's going to be used to fund the project,' Roxas said, referring to the fact that the Export-Import Bank of China had earlier committed to fund it through a low-interest loan.
Hu agreed on Wednesday to reconfigure the rail project at the request of Aquino during their meeting that day, the latter's spokesman said.
Speaking on state radio station DZRB, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said: 'The president mentioned [to Hu Jintao] that there were certain issues in the NorthRail project that needed to be reconfigured. And the Chinese agreed. And so, in their own words, they attach a high importance to the project.' Aquino assigned Roxas, a close political party colleague, to handle the delicate task.
NorthRail is being built by the China National Machinery Industry Corp to link Metro Manila to Clark international airport in Pampanga province. Roxas said Manila would take into account Hu's concerns that the rights of the corporation should be protected.