In an interview with CNN Philippines’ The Source, Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez revealed that Cagayan is China’s new target for putting up businesses.
During the recent Second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China signed 19 business contracts with the Philippines amounting to $12.2 billion in total. Six of these deals are to be situated in Cagayan, which is located in the northern end of the Philippines and just below Mainland China.
There are plans of expanding the Cagayan North International Airport, building a yacht club, a textile industry park, theme park, lithium battery factors, and hotel-resort complex in the area.
Lopez said that this province in Northern Luzon is advantageous as it is brimming with “untapped potential,” adding “any investor will really look at this place.”
In fact, Secretary Raul Lambino, the current chief executive officer of Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, is adamant in transforming Cagayan into a thriving province.
Lopez also said that some of these business agreements aim to strengthen local tourism, which he sees as the Philippines’ winning sector.
Aside from Cagayan, there are also proposals such as setting up a hydroelectric power plant in Pulangi, iron processing plant in Agusan del Norte, and a petrochemical refinery plant in Davao Occidental.
The DTI secretary also tried to convince the public that China is an ally and not an enemy. He said this superpower will not rob Filipinos of jobs and business opportunities.
Lopez shared that this was guaranteed by China to the Philippines. Chinese President Xi Jinping assured President Rodrigo Duterte that this will reinforce domestic employment, saying the Filipinos are their top priority.
The secretary explained that “highly technical” positions will be granted to Chinese laborers while the rest will be given to Filipinos.
The public has expressed its dismay over Chinese nationals entering the local workforce and the establishment of gambling firms in the Philippines.
According to reports, there are numerous Chinese who are illegally working in the country. Vice President Leni Robredo considers this as a “big insult” to Filipinos, questioning the presence of these Chinese workers in the Philippines.
Silvestre Bello III, secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment, clarified that Chinese are only allowed to assume positions which cannot be performed by Filipinos.