US looking forward to possible arms deal with Philippines

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com
US looking forward to possible arms deal with Philippines
In this April 8, 2019 photo, members of the US Naval Special Warfare Operators and Australian Defence Force conduct training with their Armed Forces of the Philippines counterparts during Exercise Balikatan 2019.
US Navy / Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Eric Chan

MANILA, Philippines — The United States is open to selling military equipment to the Philippines as it rolls out a new policy on foreign military sales.

Andrea Thompson, US Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, confirmed that there has been an increase in arms spending of Southeast Asian countries.

Thompson met with her ASEAN counterparts at the sidelines of the 2019 Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, including Philippine Defense Undersecretary Ricardo David.

Last year, US President Donald Trump implemented a new strategy called the Conventional Arms Transfer policy that added efficiency and transparency in both foreign and commercial military sales process.

Thompson added that Washington received positive feedback from allies and partners following the new policy.

"So whether it’s the importance of maritime security, which obviously is so incredibly important to the Philippines, as well as equipment in the counterterrorism fight. So added transparency, added a feedback mechanism," Thompson said in a telephone press briefing Monday.

While the sales reflect the efficiency of the policy, Thompson noted that it also indicates a long-term defense cooperation with partners and allies.

"So we look forward to the next steps with the government of the Philippines," she added.

Earlier this year, President Rodrigo Duterte declared that the country would no longer buy arms and military equipment from Washington as it had been criticizing the so-called war on drugs.

The president cited Trump's order prohibiting countries from entering into arms deals with China or Russia.

"I will not agree to buy. Pangit tingnan. Hindi maganda (It doesn't look good). It does not sit well with the Filipino na ganunin ka tapos pasunod-sunod ka na lang (they will treat you that way and you just obey)," Duterte said in January.

Despite Duterte's position against purchasing weapons from the US, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. still prefers long-time ally US to re-arm the Philippine military.

“The wisest, most expeditious alternate to one or the other view is for the US to help re-arm our military (it prefers US weaponry as I kept telling the US) and enhance our self-defense capability; leaving the initial decision to fight to us in our best light,” Locsin tweeted in March.

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