Duterte to talk with Trump on arms purchase

Edith Regalado - The Philippine Star
Duterte to talk with Trump on arms purchase
The President reportedly still has to discuss with the military and the police what more they need in terms of weapons and armaments before taking the matter up with Trump.
Presidential photo

DAVAO CITY  , Philippines  —  President Duterte plans to talk to US President Donald Trump about the possible purchase of military equipment for the military and the police.

The President reportedly still has to discuss with the military and the police what more they need in terms of weapons and armaments before taking the matter up with Trump.

The Palace earlier scoffed at the US threat of possible sanction over the purchase of Russian arms.

The President then rejected the US government’s recent offer to give weapons and defense equipment to the military.

The President said that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross have sent a letter to him offering US weapons and other defense equipment to the Philippines.

The letter from the three US officials even mentioned the F-16 fighter jets and attack helicopters that Duterte preferred.

Duterte, however, did not seem keen on the US offer, saying he found the letter “distasteful” as he brought up anew the criticism of the US government, then under president Barack Obama, of his crackdown on illegal drugs.

Canada had earlier refused to sell helicopters to the Philippines over human rights issues involving the Duterte administration’s war on illegal drugs that resulted in the death of thousands of drug pushers and users.

The President said he watched the demonstration at a military training facility in Jordan during his recent visit. Jordanian officials promised to give the Philippines two Cobra attack helicopters and rifles, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.


The Philippines and Russia lauded positive developments in bilateral defense cooperation as Moscow expressed gratitude for the firm position of the Philippine military and political leadership.

Russian Deputy Defense Minister Colonel General Alexander Fomin held talks with Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana on the sidelines of the 2018 International Military and Technical Forum in Moscow last Aug. 22.

During the meeting, the two sides gave a positive assessment of bilateral cooperation in the military and military-technical fields and outlined steps for their further expansion.

“Colonel General Alexander Fomin thanked the Philippine delegation for participating in ARMY 2018 International Military and Technical Forum and National Security Week, and also expressed gratitude for the firm position of the military-political leadership of the Philippines on the development of military-technical cooperation with Russia,” the Russian Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

Ambassador to Russia Carlos Sorreta said the Philippines-Russia defense engagement like exchange of visits, consultations and other confidence-building activities has been on the upswing in the past two years.

“This is a direct result of President Duterte’s foreign policy rebalancing which catapulted Philippine-Russian relations to the forefront of Philippine diplomacy,” Sorreta said.

In 2017, Philippine and Russian defense establishments signed an Agreement on Defense Cooperation, which now serves as the framework for military-to-military engagement between the two sides.

According to Sorreta, this was a landmark document that paved the way for the establishment of the Office of the Defense and Armed Forces Attaché of the Philippines at the Philippine embassy in Moscow in May this year.

Russia will soon appoint a defense attaché to Manila following the signing of a decree by President Vladimir Putin on the opening of a similar office in Manila.

The Ambassador noted that for the first time in the history of bilateral relations, the Philippine Army competed in this year’s International Army Games co-hosted by Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, China, Iran and Kazakhstan from July 28 to Aug. 11.

In 2017, the Russian Navy made three goodwill visits to the Philippines. This will be reciprocated this year with the upcoming port call of the Philippine Navy to Vladivostok in the last week of September.

While in Moscow, Lorenzana also met with Rosoboronexport Director General Alexander Mikheev and checked Russian military hardware, including transport and attack helicopters that were on exhibit at the International Military and Technical Forum in Patriot Park, Kubinka just outside Moscow.

Lorenzana was accompanied by Undersecretary for Finance and Materiel Raymundo Elefante and other high-ranking defense officials.

Russian Ambassador to Manila Igor Khovaev said on Monday Russia has no intention to inflict any damage to the Philippines’ close relationship with the United States and its traditional allies and partners.

He said it is possible for the Philippines to have strong security cooperation with Russia while at the same time maintaining its strong alliance with the US and other traditional allies.

Russia believes it is time for the Philippines to “diversify” defense and other forms of cooperation with other countries, without damaging its traditional alliances.

As part of a blossoming “partnership,” Russia is proposing, among others, a joint project with the Philippines for the production of assault rifles, including Kalashnikovs, in this country.

The Kalashnikov range of assault rifles includes the AK-47 – Avtomat Kalasknikov or Kalashnikov’s Automatic Rifle, arguably the most widely used of its kind in the world. Developed by Mikhail Kalashnikov, the AK-47 was first used by Soviet forces in 1949.

Kalashnikov also produces shotguns, rifles, pistols and ammunition.

The Department of National Defense (DND) is opening its doors for defense contractors to put up their manufacturing plants inside the proposed defense economic and industrial zone in Limay, Bataan.

This was bared Friday by senior defense officials is support of the previous announcement of Lorenzana on the planned putting up of the first economic and industrial zone for defense and security in the country.   – With Pia Lee-Brago, Jaime Laude

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