By Francis Wakefield
The Philippine Navy (PN) said that China has recently donated four patrol boats to help the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in its modernization efforts.
In a statement, Navy spokesman Commodore Jonathan Zata said that the four units of patrol boats came with 30 units of Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) Launcher (40MM) with corresponding ammunition.
The equipment was sent during the third week of this month.
Zata said the equipments provided by China are brand new and are currently being assessed as to how these can be integrated within the organization and supported in the long term in terms of logistics.
“Likewise we have assigned personnel to train on its operation and maintenance,” Zata said.
Department of National Defense (DND) Spokesman Arsenio Andolong said the assets are part of China’s US$14 million grant to the Philippines.
“It is (also) a manifestation of the warming relations between our two countries,” he said.
Andolong said the acquisition of the military equipment from China is in keeping with President Duterte’s independent foreign policy.
“We are acquiring equipment from various sources which can provide us with the hardware we need to achieve the credible defense posture that we are pursuing,” Andolong said.
President Duterte earlier said that he was inclined to seek military assistance from China rather than the United States if a full-blown war against terrorists erupts in Mindanao,
The President said he could rely on China’s help since it is closer to the Philippines.
Duterte recalled that the government recently tried to purchase weapons from the US but the sale was halted due to opposition by some lawmakers. “The President and Congress seem to be in parity, not co-equal. They are really in parity of powers,” he said.
China, on the other hand, provides weapons to the Philippines for free amid improving ties between the two nations.
China previously offered more than P500 million worth of military equipment to also augment the Philippine arsenal in battling Islamic State-linked militants.
The donation follows the provision last year by China of about 6,000 assault rifles and hundreds of sniper rifles.
The Chinese rifles went to the Philippine National Police (PNP), helping to fill a shortfall after U.S. legislators blocked the sale of about 26,000 M4 rifles to the police in 2016.
China’s donation is part of a new wave of diplomacy to engage a country with which Beijing has a bitter history of territorial disputes in the South China Sea. (With Reuters)