By Genalyn Kabiling
China has offered more than P500 million worth of military equipment to augment the Philippine arsenal in battling Islamic State-linked militants.
President Duterte has expressed gratitude to China for the latest military assistance especially in time of the country’s need during the turnover ceremony held in Clark, Pampnaga.
“To (China) Ambassador Zhao (Jianhua), please relate our sincerest thanks to President Xi Jinping and the government of the People’s Republic of China for its military aid package I will receive today in behalf of the Philippine government,” the President said.
“This is not only to strengthen our country’s commitment to support each other during times of need, but also highlights the dawn of a new era in Philippine-Chinese relations,” he added.
The President recalled that when he visited China last year, the two governments agreed on the need to address the threat of terrorism and piracy in Mindanao. He said Beijing expressed willingness to “unconditionally help” the Philippines, which he considered a “sign of goodwill.”
“Seven months after my visit, terrorist groups advocating the Daesh ideology launched a rebellion in Marawi City. Our troops valiantly fought to retake the city. China reiterated its offer to help,” he said.
“As a result, our governments formally entered into two agreements where China committed to turnover 590 million pesos worth of military equipment to help in our campaign against ISIS-inspired terrorists holding up in Marawi,” he added.
In his second trip to China last May, Duterte revealed that he asked for Xi’s help, particularly in the procurement of firearms for government troops amid the “rebellion” threat, and the Chinese leader agreed to his request.
Duterte earlier said he had a complete picture of the threat posed by the IS militants in Marawi before he even declared martial law in Mindanao last May 23 while visiting Moscow, Russia.
“Sabi ko, ‘I would need more arms.’ And true enough to his word, President Xi Jinping and China, and with the assurance of His Excellency the Ambassador assured me that the arms would be coming shortly. And I was glad when I was informed a few weeks ago that it was on its way here,” he said.
“Mr. Ambassador, please accept my gratitude in behalf of the Filipino people,” he said.
Duterte said the military weapons donated by China would be equally divided among the government security forces.
“It will pass inventory by the DND then it will be equally divided as needed by our security forces and that would be our military and the police,” he said.