MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday vowed to purchase only brand new hardware for the military, as he again lambasted the United States for either selling or giving secondhand equipment to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“During my time, wala na akong secondhand [na] mga barko, barko. It has to be brand new. Hindi na ako tatanggap ng mga equipment ng military na secondhand,” Duterte told government soldiers in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay.
Duterte said he was willing to spend “double the money” if only to provide his troops brand new equipment.
The President also vowed to add more fighter planes to the military’s inventory.
The Philippines recently received the last batch of the 12 FA-50 fighter jets from South Korea, which were purchased during the time of Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno Aquino III.
Duterte, who once described Aquino's P18.9-billion aircraft purchase as a waste of money, said he might buy 12 more of these jets.
“So ‘yan lang maiwan ko sa inyo. Pero during my time, nandiyan na tayong lahat. Kumpleto na ‘yung jets natin,” he said.
“By the time I’ll be out of… Kung buhayin pa ako ng Panginoong Diyos, you will have about 24 jet planes. Mag-acquire pa ako ng 12. Subukan ko," he said.
The President made the statement as government troops continued to pursue terrorists in Marawi City, where firefights have been going on since May 23. On Wednesday, 10 soldiers died after they were hit in the military's own air strike.
The president made no reference to the bungled bomb drop in his speech.
In shifting the Philippines' diplomatic track away from its long-standing alliance with the United States, Duterte has pursued deeper defense ties with Russia and China.
The Philippine government recently signed a defense pact with Russia and has expressed interest in acquiring military equipment from China. This even as Beijing stepped up militarization and island-building activities in the disputed South China Sea, undermining the Philippines' claims.
In November last year, meanwhile, the US State Department stopped its sale of rifles to the Philippine National Police after US Senator Ben Cardin expressed opposition.
Cardin and his fellow Senator Marco Rubio also filed a bill last month seeking to block arms exports to the Philippines citing their opposition to the war on drugs.
Duterte has railed at the US for criticizing his anti-drug campaign.