PH won’t buy Russian rifles, after all
The Department of National Defense is no longer interested in acquiring assault rifles from Russia as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has recently acquired 50,000 units of brand new Remington M-4 carbine for soldiers.
Instead, it plans to buy specialized military equipment, such unmanned aerial vehicles or drones and sniper rifles that can bend, which Russia was also offering.
Speaking at a press conference in Camp Aguinaldo on Thursday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the AFP has recently replaced with Remington M-4 carbine the older M-16 automatic rifles which are now stored at its various armories.
The older weapons, he said, could still be given to reserve military and militia units whenever necessary because the Government Arsenal was producing enough ammunition for the AFP.
President Duterte earlier expressed his preference for Russian assault rifles which he said were among the best in the world. Russian military officials have rushed talks with their Philippine counterparts and offered to sell naval vessels, aircraft, helicopters and even diesel electric submarines.
Lorenzana said the AFP was still evaluating these offers to determine if the country was capable of using, maintaining and operating these equipment in the long run.
He said he had explained to the President that the rifles needed by the AFP were very much different from those of the Philippine National Police.
“We will look into these things because we should buy in accordance with our modernization plan. We will buy smart, we will buy things with quality and will suit the needs of people on the ground,” he stressed.
He said the President repeatedly reminded him to involve the people who will use the equipment in the evaluation process prior to purchase.
“We cannot just buy equipment in a random thought when the people who will be using them don’t like them. So that’s our track in our modernization program,” he said.
In terms of defense cooperation, Lorenzana said that he would accompany the President in his visit to Russia sometime in April this year to sign a memorandum of agreement for a military to military engagement between the two states.
Such engagement, he said, would be in the form of allowing Russian military visitations and observations of troops as well as Russian ship visits and exchange of military students.
He did not discount the possibility that both militaries would also venture into joint military exercises in the future.
In the case of China, Lorenzana said there were no strings attached to its $14-million grant to the Philippines for the AFP’s weapons system.
He said the Chinese government did not impose any conditions for the grant which will be followed by soft loans.
Lorenzana said the AFP had expressed interest in acquiring fast boats, unmanned aerial vehicles, “flexible” rifles which can shoot around corners, sniper rifles and automatic bomb disposal equipment.
He said the Philippines was just awaiting China’s reply to the Philippine government’s list and quantity of weapons to be given.