MANILA, Philippines – Russia vowed to donate 5,000 Kalashnikov rifles to the Philippines to help in the Southeast Asian country's anti-terror efforts, the Philippine government said on Wednesday, October 11.
"We will have the Kalashnikov," President Rodrigo Duterte said in a speech at the groundbreaking ceremony of Scout Ranger Ville in San Miguel, Bulacan.
Before disclosing this, Duterte had to turn to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana if Russia, represented in the Philippines by Ambassador Igor Khovaev, wanted to keep this donation a secret.
"Hindi naman 'yun kailangan, Del, hindi naman kailangang isikreto 'yung sa Russia? Ayaw nilang public? Ayaw nila? Malaman man rin nila 'yan kung saan galing," Duterte said, laughing.
(Do we need to keep that Russian thing a secret? They don't want to make it public? They don't want it? But people will know anyway where the rifles came from.)
"Anyway, sabihin mo na lang kay Igor. Ano ba'ng sikreto diyan?" Duterte said in jest. (Anyway, just tell Igor about it. What's there to be kept in secret?)
In a chance interview, Lorenzana explained that Russia is donating 5,000 Kalashnikov rifles with about one million rounds of ammunition.
On top of this, Russia will also give the Philippines 20 big army trucks. (READ: PH, Russia sign defense agreement, 9 other deals)
Lorenzana said a Russian ship will dock in the Philippines on October 22, and the turnover of donated equipment will be on October 25.
"Gusto nila tumulong sa atin to fight terrorism (They want to help us fight terrorism)," he said.
Russia is making these donations as Duterte vows to move farther from the United States, and closer to "nontraditional" partners such as China and Russia. (READ: Russia warns 'traditional' PH partners: Don't interfere) – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at email@example.com.