Says no conflict of interest amid sea dispute
BEIJING - Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Sunday some Chinese companies are set to sign, on the final day of China’s Belt and Road forum, a letter expressing their intent to supply an array of defense equipment to the Philippines.
A US$500-million loan from the Chinese government will also be on standby, which the Philippines can draw from for funding once the modernization fund is fully used up.
Lorenzana, however, clarified that a technical team will first have to inspect the equipment being offered, while the Department of National Defense (DND) will have to consult with the Philippine Navy, Army and Air Force about their defense requirements.
“We’re not saying we will buy or not. But if we need anything from the Chinese defense industry, we will procure using the loans they will offer us," he said.
Lorenzana also cited a $14-million (P700-million) China grant from December, which will be used to purchase 4 fast boats, 200 sniper rifles, and several hundreds of RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades] with ammunitions that will be delivered by the end of this year.
Lorenzana assured that the Chinese equipment follow North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) specifications.
The defense secretary also brushed off concerns this could present a clear conflict of interest, in the midst of a territorial and maritime dispute with China.
"Can we get them? Yes. We should separate our dispute in the South China sea, from our relationship with the Chinese.”