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China to support PHL railway projects – Duterte

Despite the geopolitical tensions hounding China and the Philippines, President-elect Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said Beijing has offered to build railways in the country to address the traffic problem.

"Even before the elections, the ambassador sabi niya – 'yung babae – we will do the railway immediately. We will start immediately and we will solve your Manila run," Duterte said before businessmen in Davao on Tuesday.

Duterte last month said he has his eyes on the railway systems in Luzon and in Mindanao as his "first big projects" as President.

The incoming President, the railway systems would connect Manila to Nueva Vizcaya in Central Luzon, Manila to Batangas, and the whole of Mindanao.

He said, however, that other countries need to be involved in such a big project due to the lack of financing.

Asked about possible sources of funding, Duterte was quoted as saying , "Maybe China." He did not elaborate.

"I do not know how they will do it, but they will do it in two years... I'll give that to you," Duterte said on Tuesday at Sulong Pilipinas, a two-day consultation with businessmen, in Davao City.

China, Japan, Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam have overlapping territorial claims over parts of South China Sea, with Beijing claiming the whole area belongs to it.

In the same event, Duterte said incoming Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade will head to China to discuss the railway projects.

"Art Tugade has to go to China not to talk about war, not to talk about relations there, but to talk about peace and how they can help us," he said.

Duterte also said China has pledged to support the Manila-Bicol and Manila-Batangas railways.

"They have not asked for anything because at that time I was not comfortable to discuss," he said. – Jon Viktor Cabuenas/VDS, GMA News