Panelo to Colmenares on alleged questionable PH-China loan deal: You’re free to go to court
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Sunday rejected the debate challenge made by left-leaning senatorial aspirant Neri Colmenares about a supposed questionable loan agreement entered into by the Duterte administration with the Chinese government.
Panelo accused Colmenares of trying to get media attention by challenging a government official to a debate.
“Surely Mr. Neri Colmenares knows how to grab at a media op to improve on his fledgling candidacy,” he said in a statement.
“He should be commended for that but I have better things to do than to provide him the forum he desperately needs,” he added.
Last week, Colmenares made the challenge after Panelo accused him of politicizing the China loan agreement to get media spotlight.
“If Panelo thinks I am ignorant of the issues, then I invite him to a debate anytime, anywhere,” Colmenares said in a statement.
“Panelo is wrong in saying I am raising this issue to bolster my candidacy as senator. That is a pathetic attempt to divert and muddle the issue,” he added.
Colmenares has alleged that the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project loan agreement favors China and the project is a disaster for the Philippines.
But Panelo said the project was already answered by the economic managers.
“The issues he raised in the Chico River Pump Project have been squarely and adequately responded to by the economic managers as well as by this representation,” he said.
“If he is not satisfied with our responses he is free to go to the courts, as his usual style for media mileage, and we will be happy to oblige him there,” he added.
Citing a document obtained by the Bayan Muna group, Colmenares said the contract for the Chico Pump River Project, amounting to $62.086-million loan, sets an annual interest rate at 2 percent, with an additional annual “commitment fee” of 0.3 percent of the loan and a “management fee” of 0.3 percent.
The 2-percent interest rate was higher compared to the 0.25 percent for loans offered by other countries.
The river project was signed on April 10, 2018 by China’s ambassador Zhao Jianhua, on behalf of the lender bank, and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, on behalf of the Philippine government. Ella Dionisio/DMS