Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte promised on Friday to buy brand-new military equipment to fight twin Maoist and Muslim rebellions, and no longer accept second-hand weapons from the United States.
Over the last two weeks, some 3,000 security personnel have been battling about 400 pro-Islamic State militants who had taken over a southern city. The forces are using refurbished U.S. planes, armored vehicles and assault rifles.
“I will no longer accept second-hand military equipment,” Duterte told soldiers at an army base on the southern island of Mindanao. “I do not want those given by the Americans. During my time, I will not have second-hand ships. It has to be brand new.”
Duterte said he would acquire new and modern weapons systems “even if I have to spend double the money,” and would look at buying equipment such as planes, boats, drones and guns from China and Russia, traditional rivals of its closest ally, the United States.
Since 2000, Washington has given Manila military aid worth nearly $800 million worth of drones, helicopters, assault rifles, and combat gear including tactical radios, night-vision devices and spares.
The Philippine budget allocates more than 100 billion pesos ($2 billion) to modernize the military’s equipment under a five-year plan, spending 25 billion pesos this year on acquisitions from South Korea and Israel.
Manila has ordered two large strategic sealift vessels from Indonesia and 12 FA-50 light fighters from South Korea.
“By the time I am out of office, you will have about 24 jet planes,” Duterte said. “I will acquire 12 more.”
(Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)