MANILA, Philippines – Russia has offered to sell the Philippines a range of military hardware, including submarines, as the two countries make headway in forging closer military-to-military ties.
The two countries, previously with limited ties, are expected to sign a new military-to-military agreement when Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte visits Russia in April or May. (READ: PH says finalizing deal to observe Russian military drills)
Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said offers involving big-ticket acquisitions will be carefully studied, but he said the Philippine military is interested in trying out Russia’s specialized rifles and perhaps some drones.
“The Russian defense minister offered a lot of things – ships, submarines, aircrafts, and helicopters. We will look into that because we should buy in accordance with our modernization plan… We will buy smart,” Lorenza said in a press conference on Thursday, January 26.
“We are interested in their specialized rifles, like the sniper rifles…. We are also thinking of buying… we’ll find out that they have good quality UAVs or drones. We might be able to consider those,” he said.
One of Asia’s weakest militaries, the Philippines has embarked on a modest military modernization. But acquisition of submarines have not been seriously considered.
“Do we need submarines? Let’s find out. It depends on the needs of the country. Hindi ka naman bili ng bili na hindi mo pwedeng gamitin. Pang-plano lang ba yan? Pampa-yabang? (You shouldn’t buy assets that you’re not going to use anyway. Is that only for show?),” the defense secretary said.
Russian troops in PH soon
Lorenzana said he is joinging Duterte in his scheduled to visit Russia. Lorenzana’s priority is to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will allow exchanges between the 2 militaries so they could get to know each other.
“I’ll accompany the president there. We hope to sign an MOU – a military to military agreement with the Russians – that will allow visitation of troops and perhaps ships coming here,” he said.
“They could observe our exercises. We could also observe their exercises there. And exchanges of students in our schools,” he continued.
Duterte had talked about possible military exercises between the Philippine and Russian militaries, similar to the annual Balikatan exercises with the US.
But Lorenzana said these kinds of huge exercises will require treaties.
“Maybe later on we could also go into joint exercises, but that will be in the future… It’s not part of the MOU that will be signed [the] visiting forces to engage in massive exercises here in the country,” he said. – Rappler.com