China practically giving us firearms – Duterte
MANILA — China has made available firearms for Philippine state forces in an apparent move to further bolster its good relations with the Duterte administration amid the continuing territorial dispute between the two countries over the West Philippine Sea.
President Duterte disclosed this Sunday night in his speech before personnel of the Northern Luzon Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) at Camp Servillano Aquino in Tarlac City.
It was not clear, however, what kind of guns the Philippine government would acquire from Beijing as Mr. Duterte did not provide details of the arms deal.
“China is pressing me. The firearms are already available for me to receive. They are really prodding me,” the President said in a mix of English and Filipino.
He said he directed Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to send a military general to formally receive the guns from Beijing.
“The firearms are already there and (China) really wants to give them to us. So it’s really now easy for us. We don’t have to ask (help) from other (countries),” said Mr. Duterte.
The Commander-in-Chief said Beijing offered the guns through a 25-year grant to the Philippine government.
Said the President: “If it’s a grant payable in 25 years, that’s practically giving… It’s obvious that China wanted to give us (firearms).”
Unlike his predecessor, Mr. Duterte chose to be friendly with China as part of what he described as his administration’s efforts to pursue an independent foreign policy.
In his state visit to Beijing last October, the President told a group of Chinese businessmen and government officials that he had decided to separate from the US “both in military and economics,” much to the delight of his Chinese host.
Upon the President’s return to Manila, Beijing immediately announced it would allow small fishermen to enter the disputed Scarborough Shoal, a resource-rich area clearly within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. SFM
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