DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 19 Aug) — The Philippines will buy submarines from Russia despite the warning issued by a US defense official not to acquire military hardware from Russia, President Rodrigo Duterte said.
Duterte criticized the US for interfering in the country’s plan to get submarines from Russia to modernize the navy during a speech at the mass oath-taking of barangay officials in the regional political party Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) at the SMX Convention Center Davao on Friday.
He said the neighboring countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) neighbors own submarines, citingVietnam with seven; Malaysia, two, and Indonesia, eight.
Duterte said he wants to meet the US officials in a forum to hear from them why they oppose the Philippines’ plan to buy submarines from Russia.
“You state your case why you are against my country acquiring submarines. Give me the reason why and make it public. You want us to remain backward,” he said.
The Manila Times quoted Schriver as telling reporters in a roundtable discussion at the US Embassy in Manila last Thursday that the Philippines “should think very carefully” about purchasing equipment from Russia because “I don’ think that is a helpful thing to the alliance.”
“Ultimately, I think we can be a better partner than the Russians can be to the Philippine people,” he said.
The Philippine Star quoted Defense spokesperson Arsenio Andolong as saying the Philippine government is acquiring military equipment from any country where it will be beneficial and advantageous to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“While our acquisition of submarines (from Russia) for the Philippines is still under study and nothing is final at this point, we emphasize that the defense department will procure equipment that is most advantageous for the AFP through the AFP Modernization Program,” Andolong said.
Andolong also said the DND is not limiting its choices to Russiia and is also considering France and South Korea as possible sources for the Navy’s first submarine.
“What’s the problem?”
“Why, what’s the problem about acquiring submarines?” Duterte asked.
He said the country wants to acquire submarines to boost the military capabilities and not use them against the US or China amid the tension in the West Philippine Sea.
Duterte was also displeased by the sale of six refurbished helicopters from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) by the US government to the Philippines.
“Did you investigate that two or three of them crashed already? The latest was in Lipa. Kaka-take off lang, bumagsak, pumutok. Galing sa inyo ‘yun (It had just taken off when it crashed and exploded). No, no, I’m not your enemy. I’m protecting my soldiers and police,” he said.
“Is that the way how you treat an ally? And you want us to stay with you for all times? Think about it. Why did you not stop the other countries the — Asia? Bakit kami pinipigilan ninyo? (why are you stopping us?)”
He said all the military equipment the Philippines obtained from the US were not free and only South Korea, Japan, China, and Russia donated to the Philippines. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)