President Rodrigo R. Duterte said Saturday he would reconsider acquiring weapons from the United States after shunning deals with the Americans in favor of military purchases from China, Russia and other countries.
“Well, America has been helpful. In the purchase of arms, we have a bad experience but they have a new policy now. We’re going to reconsider,” President Duterte said in a radio interview Saturday night.
Duterte was referring to the 2016 decision of the US State Department to halt the sale of 26,000 assault rifles to the Philippine National Police over concerns of human rights violations in his war on illegal drugs.
That led his government to look for other countries that did not impose any conditions on arms sales.
“We’ll buy if we think we need that kind of particular… But I’d like to say to the Americans and to the officials—in Washington, when you deprived us of the arms, we started going around scouting for cheaper and better arms. And there were contracts already, memorandum of intent—intent to buy something like that. So we will not impair that obligations,” he said.
The President, who has said many times that the likes US President Donald Trump, said he could not abandon deals signed by the Philippines with Russia and China, the two countries that provided assistance to the Philippines especially during the Marawi siege in May 2017.
“When we needed, in the hour of our need, we needed the arms, Russia and China gave it to us practically free,” the President said.
The Department of National Defense on Sunday welcomed the President’s statement.
“We welcome the President’s pronouncements,” DND spokesman Arsenio Andolong said in an interview with reporters Sunday.
“We would like to thank him for making modernization of the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] one of his priorities and of course having said that, all of our procurement will have to undergo the process as stated in the law, Republic Act 10349 and we will continue [to] purchase [when] equipment we can get them, provided we need them,” he added.
He said Duterte’s plan will also widen the DND’s options in where to source its weapons and equipment needed for the ongoing AFP Modernization Program.
“[It] will of course widen our options, [with the President again considering US-made weapons], and we will now be able to make our choices even better,” Andolong said.
Republic Act 10349 or an act amending RA 7898 which established the revised AFP Modernization Program and For Other Purposes, was signed on Dec. 11, 2012, extending the AFP Modernization Program by another 15 years and provided it with P75 billion worth of funding for the first five years.
The Revised AFP Modernization Program is divided into three horizons. The first was implemented from 2013 to 2017, the second is from 2018 to 2022, while the third is from 2023 to 2028.
“[This] pronouncement will give us more momentum now to complete the transaction and of course the other items, I think the President of the US stated that he’s now open to offering their unmanned aerial reconnaissance vehicles to the countries in Southeast Asia and I think he mentioned us [Philippines] as one of the countries [they are making the offer],” he added. With PNA
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