MANILA – The Philippines is looking at getting military equipment from China and Russia, President Rodrigo Duterte said Tuesday evening.
Speaking in front of members of the Philippine Air Force at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City, Duterte said possible deals with Russia and China are "in the pipeline" and that "offers are coming in." However, he did not discuss the details of the proposals.
Duterte also said China offered airplanes to the Philippines because Beijing is "worried" about him.
"Ang China nagsabi daw na they are worried of me. Kaya nag-offer na magbigay ng eroplano (China said they are worried about me. So they offered to give airplanes)," he said.
He added that China may have offered military equipment because Beijing is "also thinking of the other guy," referring to the United States, with which he clarified the Philippines is not cutting military ties.
"Andiyan iyan eh (It is already there). Who am I to [do away with] a treaty?" he said.
However, the country will also be "independent" and will welcome other possibilities when it comes to procuring equipment or weaponry for the armed forces.
"Kung gusto natin magbili dito, kung libre ito, bakit hindi natin kunin? Eh di salamat. Dito mayor, iregalo namin sa iyo, eroplano. Ibibigay ko sa Air Force, gamitin ninyo iyan (If we want to buy from one source, if it's free, why won't we take it? Thanks. Here, mayor, we will give you an airplane. I will give that to the Air Force, you should use that)," he said.
Beijing claims sovereignty over most of the disputed South China Sea. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have rival claims.
An arbitration court in the Hague ruled on July 12 that China had no historic title over the busy waterway and had breached the Philippines' sovereign rights there. The decision infuriated Beijing, which dismissed the court's authority.
Beijing has also repeatedly blamed the United States for stoking tensions in the region through its military patrols, and of taking sides in the dispute, accusations Washington denies.
Duterte said Monday that he snubbed U.S. leader Barack Obama on the eve of their scheduled summit in Laos last week.
Duterte sparked a firestorm ahead of an Asian gathering with an expletive-laced speech against the United States, prompting Obama to cancel planned talks between the two sides. The pair met briefly later in Laos after Duterte expressed regret.
Duterte decided to scrap the meeting in reaction to US criticism of his bloody anti-crime campaign, which has claimed almost 3,000 lives since he took office.
"I purposely did not attend the bilateral talks (with)... the president of the United States," Duterte said in a speech to police and military personnel. "I really skipped that one." - with reports from Reuters
Duterte says he snubbed Obama at summit
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