PH gets P1.38B more in donated military equipment from US government
MANILA, Philippines—The outgoing administration of US President Donald Trump donated an additional P1.38 billion worth of military equipment to the Philippines which Philippine officials said showed the two countries’ “continued warm alliance.”
Acting US Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller announced the recent transfer of defense gear which included sniper rifles, helmets, bomb suits, metal detectors and scopes, on the sidelines of his meeting with Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City on Tuesday (Dec. 8).
The new equipment transferred last Dec. 2 were expected to strengthen special mission units of the Philippine armed forces in terms of joint precision strike, sniper, riverine, and counter-improvised explosive device capabilities.
Acting US Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller led the ceremonial turnover of P1.38 billion ($29 million) worth of defense gears, including snipers and anti IED equipment, for the use of the Philippine military. Photos from DND pic.twitter.com/yghuJ84ojk
— Frances Mangosing (@FMangosingINQ) December 8, 2020
Miller told Lorenzana that the first of two refurbished C-130 heavy-lift aircraft that the Philippine Air Force is acquiring will be delivered on Dec. 17.
The Philippine defense department described the aid package as “a symbol of the Philippines and the United States continued warm alliance.”
With P33 billion worth of ships, planes, small arms and other military equipment donated to the Philippines since 2015, the Philippines is the largest recipient of US military assistance in the Indo-Pacific region.
Lorenzana said “a militarily strong, peaceful and stable” Philippines is beneficial to the US for its engagements in the region.
“We are the only military ally of the US and we can be their better ally if we are strong,” he told INQUIRER.net.
The Philippines and US share concerns on China’s increasingly aggressive behavior in the South China Sea.
But the US-Philippine alliance was tested when President Rodrigo Duterte decided to scrap the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) early this year. The US is currently trying to negotiate a long-term military arrangement for the suspension of the VFA termination with the Philippine government.
Miller was in Manila as part of his Asia tour. He met with Philippine security and foreign affairs officials to reiterate Washington’s commitment to help in the Philippines’ security. A government official earlier said that the VFA and the South China Sea would dominate the discussion.
During the meeting, Lorenzana and Miller have agreed to boost further the two countries’ military ties.
“The usual— our defense relationship. How we can improve it that would be beneficial to both countries,” Lorenzana said when asked what was discussed with Miller.
Top US defense officials have visited Manila in the past week to bring gifts to the Philippine defense establishment.
US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien announced the donation of P868 million of missiles and bombs to the Philippines during his visit in November.
US Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barret’s visit, also last November, also coincided with the handover to the Philippine Navy of a ScanEagle drone worth P710 million.
The visits come as the US prepares for a transition to the administration of President-elect Joe Biden.
“We’re here and whatever happens in the domestic politics of the United States, this is a critical alliance for us,” O’Brien said during his visit.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.