Duterte hits U.S. for warning PH vs Russian equipment

Pia Ranada

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Duterte hits U.S. for warning PH vs Russian equipment
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte lashes out against his country's sole treaty ally, scolding America for only giving hand-me-down defense equipment

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte bristled at the warning of a United States defense official  to the Philippines not to buy Russian military equipment.

On Friday, August 17, Duterte lashed out against the country’s sole treaty ally for what he sees as interference into how the Philippines decides where to purchase heavy defense equipment like submarines.

He even accused the US of providing only hand-me-downs that endanger the lives of Filipino soldiers.

“Why did you not stop the other countries in Asia? Bakit kami pinipiligan ninyo? (Why are you stopping us?) Who are you to warn us? Magbigay kayo ng submarino, mag implode ‘yun  (You give us submarines, it will implode),” said Duterte during a Hugpong ng Pagbabago event in Davao City.

He claimed that some US-donated helicopters were “used” and “refurbished” choppers from North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). He said some were already “rusted” and their bad condition supposedly led to the deaths of some Filipino soldiers.

“One or 2 or 3 rusted already, killing all the crew members. Is that the way you treat an ally and you want us to stay with you for all time? Bright man kayo, mandiyan mga Harvard ninyo (You are bright, you have your Harvard graduates there),” said the Filipino leader.

He challenged the US to explain to him in a “forum” why the Philippines should not buy from Russia, claiming America is bent on shackling the Philippines’ modernization of its military.

“You want us to remain backwards. Vietnam has 7 (submarines), Malaysia has 2, Indonesia has 8. We alone don’t have one. You haven’t given us any,” he said in Filipino.

What prompted Duterte’s outburst? Duterte was reacting to remarks made on Thursday by Randall Schriver,  United States Department of Defense Assistant Secretary for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs.

Schriver had said the Philippines’ purchasing equipment from Russia would be seen as a negative statement on the country’s military alliance with the US. The US has on many occasions condemned acts by Russia.

The American defense official also said the US wants to supply to the Philippines instead and would be a better provider since the two countries’ defense forces have been working together for decades. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is Rappler’s Community Lead, in charge of linking our journalism with communities for impact.