MANILA, Philippines – For P1.5 billion, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) acquired from China 248 units of cranes, bulldozers, loaders, and other engineering equipment meant to be used for rehabilitation efforts in Marawi City.
A symbolic hand-over ceremony was held in Camp Aguinaldo on Wednesday, March 27, where equipment from Chinese makers Sany, Fuwa, Xuanha Construction Machinery Co, and others were put on display.
The P1.5 billion-project was acquired through a government-to-government program that resulted from the country’s growing ties with the regional giant. Defense Undersecretary Cardozo Luna said China bested other countries that offered to supply the equipment.
AFP chief General Benjamin Madrigal Jr said it’s part of the country’s efforts to address issues with China through “diplomacy.” The Philippines used to be the biggest critic of China’s actions in the South China Sea, where the two countries are claimants.
Asked by a reporter if there are plans to deploy the equipment to Pag-asa Island in the Spartlys, where the Philippines is fixing its dilapidated runway, Madrigal said: “Depende. Kung kakailanganin, why not? Sa ngayon wala pa naman (It depends. If necessary, why not? As of now, there’s none).”
Completed under two years, it is among the initial projects under the military’s “Horizon 2” modernization program under President Rodrigo Duterte. The modernization program will cost the country at least P300 billion to acquire missile systems and radars follows the P70-billion "Horizon 1" program of the previous administration that saw the acquisition of fighter trainers and frigates.
The military said 114 units of the engineering equipment were already delivered to Iligan City in Lanao Del Norte, a city near Marawi. The rest of the equipment were delivered to major camps in Metro Manila.
Marawi rehabilitation efforts continue to face delays, however, supposedly because of the continuous failure to clear the former battle area of unexploded ordnance. The siege will mark its second year on May 23.
"These equipment will not only help the AFP to support the continuous effort of the administration to facilitate the comprehensive rehabilitation and reconstruction of Marawi as a city but also in performing our role in support to national development of the whole country," said Major General Pio Diñoso, deputy chief of staff for logistics. – Rappler.com