MANILA - The United States has turned over to the Armed Forces of the Philippines some P48.5 million worth of weapons and munition to enhance the country's "counterterrorism capabilities and readiness," its embassy in Manila said Thursday.
The delivery, procured through US grant assistance, included the following:
- 14 M2A1 .50 caliber heavy machine guns
- 7 M240B machine guns
- thousands of rounds of ammunition
Officials from the Joint United States Military Assistance Group-Philippines delivered the weapons at Clark Air Base on Sunday, July 4.
“As the United States and Philippines celebrate 75 years of diplomatic relations today, we welcome this key equipment transfer, which will support the continued readiness of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” JUSMAG-P chief and senior defense official to the Philippines Col. Stephen Ma said in a statement.
The Philippines is the largest recipient of US military assistance in the Indo-Pacific, the US Embassy in the Philippines said. Since 2015, Washington has provided more than P48.6 billion ($1 billion) in security assistance to Manila, it added.
The US is the Philippines' closest defense partner, even as the Duterte administration forged friendlier relations with other non-traditional partners such as China and Russia, both American rivals.
This year, the US and the Philippines are commemorating 70 years since the signing of the Mutual Defense Treaty in 1951, which binds both countries to aiding each other in the event of foreign aggression.
Filipino and American soldiers regularly hold joint military exercises through "Balikatan," which tests the readiness of their forces to respond to natural disasters and attacks.