MANILA – The United States on Monday formally turned over the second of two C-130 planes to the Philippines.
The two second-hand aircraft, bought by the Aquino administration for $35 million (about P1.6 billion), was aimed at boosting the Philippines’ capabilities in responding to disasters.
The refurbished planes were originally priced at $55 million but the US shouldered the remaining $20 million. The first C130 plane was delivered back in April, months before President Rodrigo Duterte assumed power.
Philippine Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Edgar Fallorina said the latest acquisition "reaffirms the strong partnership between our two countries."
US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg, meanwhile, said the C130 planes symbolize the strength of the partnership between the Philippines and the United States.
“Quite a bit has happened since April but what hasn't changed is our commitment to Filipinos,” Goldberg said.
Duterte’s defense secretary, Delfin Lorenzana, noted that the Philippines has obtained 20 Hueys, 2 high-endurance cutters, and other vessels from the US, and he hopes that “we can work for the transfer of more acquisitions from the US, not just planes but ships.”
The turnover of the US aircraft comes amid Duterte’s tense rhetoric against the US, the Philippines’ long-time ally.
Duterte has both shocked and confused members of the diplomatic community over his harsh and flip-flopping statements on the Philippines’ relations with its long-time ally, the US.
Following a string of attacks against the US, Duterte announced during his state visit in China his “separation” from the US. However, upon arrival in the Philippines, he took back his words and said the country is not severing its ties with the superpower.