MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said his administration will no longer purchase arms and military equipment from the United States after the latter threatened to impose sanctions on countries buying military equipment from Russia.
In a speech in front of soldiers in Bulacan, Duterte said he will not look to buy arms from the US, a treaty ally of the Philippines, after Washington blocked an arms deal with Manila upon the opposition of an American senator who raised concerns about human rights violations here.
Duterte claimed that aside from Russia, the US was also against Manila purchasing arms from China, Washington’s chief economic and geopolitical rival.
“Pagka bumili ka sa China o maybe Russia, magsali ka sa embargo. You cannot trade with America. So para kang inipit doon sa ano. Eh sabi ko naman sa --- your superiors and the civilian leaders, with that kind of arrangement, do not expect me to buy arms from the United States,” he said.
(If you buy arms from China or Russia, you will be sanctioned due to the arms embargo. You cannot trade with America. So it’s like you’re pushed to a corner. I said to the superiors and civilian leaders, with that kind of arrangement, do not expect me to buy arms from the United States.)
Duterte said he would instead seek arms from other Philippine allies, such as Israel and South Korea.
“I will not agree to buy [from the US]. Pangit tingnan. Hindi maganda. It does not sit well with the Filipino na ganunin ka tapos pasunod-sunod ka na lang. Wala naman akong galit sa kanila. Sila ‘yung nauna. And they criticized me heavily dito sa drugs,” he said.
(I will not agree to buy [from the US]. It looks bad. It would not sit well with Filipinos that you are being told what to do. I am not angry at them, but they were the first to hit me. And they criticized me heavily for my war on drugs.)
Duterte made this announcement even as Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announced last month that the Philippines will buy 16 Black Hawk helicopters from the Sikorsky Aircraft Corp for P12.67 billion ($240 million), shunning cheaper Russian equipment due to U.S. sanctions on Russian military exports.
The Philippines is spending P300 billion ($5.6 billion) over the next 5 years to upgrade its defense capability, replacing World War II-era warships and Vietnam War-vintage fighters and helicopters.
It recently acquired fighter jets from South Korea, logistics ships from Indonesia, and armored vehicles and ship-borne missiles from Israel. - with Reuters