MANILA – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has said his government will not buy any more weapons from the United States after the American administration threatened to impose sanctions on countries purchasing Russian military equipment, according to the transcription of a speech released by the presidential office on Friday.
In an address to soldiers in the Bulacan province Thursday night, Duterte said he would not agree to buy equipment from the US as it had been among the first countries to strongly criticize his war on drugs.
Duterte said he would replace weapons from the US, a traditional political and military ally of the Philippines, with equipment, not only from Russia, but also from South Korea and Israel, which he visited in 2018.
A military agreement between the Philippines and the US negotiated last year is blocked in the US Congress after several senators refused to support it owing to human rights violations during the anti-drugs campaign launched by Duterte, which has killed thousands so far.
The President said the US had imposed a military embargo on countries purchasing arms from Russia and even from China, Washington’s main economic and geopolitical rival in the Pacific.
His remarks come just a month after Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announced that the country would buy 16 Black Hawk helicopters for around $240 million instead of the cheaper Russian equipment to avoid sanctions.
The Philippines is planning to spend about $5.6 billion dollars in the next five years to improve its defense capabilities and replace its World War II warships and Vietnam War-era starfighters and helicopters, inherited from the US.
Last year, the Philippines bought fighter jets from South Korea, logistics ships from Indonesia and armored vehicles from Israel.