Panelo rejects senatorial bet’s debate challenge

MANILA -- Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Sunday rejected the dare of Senate bet Neri Colmenares to debate over issues concerning loan agreements between the Philippines and China.

Panelo said Colmenares only challenged him to attract media attention and improve his chances of winning a seat in the Senate.

Challenging a publicly visible government official to a debate attracts media attention. Surely Mr. Neri Colmenares knows how to grab at a media op to improve on his fledgling candidacy, Panelo said in a statement.

Panelo, however, said that he had more important concerns to prioritize than respond to Colmenares' challenge.

He should be commended for that but I have better things to do than to provide him the forum he desperately needs, Panelo said.

Colmenares, former Bayan Muna representative, earlier claimed the USD62-million deal on the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project, an irrigation project in the Cordillera, favored China.

Panelo emphasized that the Palace and government's economic managers have already responded to Colmenares' questions, but he could always go to courts if he felt the responses were lacking.

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, Panelo 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.

Previously, Panelo dismissed Colmenares' allegations that the Philippines-China loan agreement for the Chico River pump project was one-sided.

Panelo noted that the project is beneficial to Filipinos because it will provide a stable supply of water to around 8,700 hectares of agricultural land, benefit 4,350 farmers and their families, and serve 21 barangays in the provinces of Kalinga and Cagayan in Northern Luzon once completed.

He also assured that the agreement had gone through proper procedures since it was reviewed, negotiated, and approved by the Interagency Committee composed of the Department of Justice, the Department of Finance and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

Colmenares ran but lost in the 2016 senatorial race.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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