Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is seeking weapons from Russia and China and an end to joint patrols with US forces in the South China Sea.
Duterte said that two countries — which he did not identify — had agreed to give the Philippines a 25-year soft loan to buy military equipment, Bloomberg reports.
Later, he said that Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and “technical people” in the armed forces would visit China and Russia “and see what’s best”.
Duterte said he did not want to cut the “umbilical cord” with his allies but the remarks were the latest to signal a shift away from the Philippine-US defense treaty in place since 1951.
Since engaging in a public spat with US President Barack Obama last week, Duterte has denounced American military killings during the early days of colonial rule and called for US forces to leave the southern island of Mindanao.
“Duterte seems to be putting into action his latest remarks about trying to implement an independent foreign policy,” said Eduardo Tadem, a lecturer of Asian Studies at the University of the Philippines.
“The problem is what’s the quid pro quo? What will the Chinese especially get in exchange?”
On Tuesday, Duterte said the Philippines needs propeller-driven planes that it can use against insurgents and fight terrorists in Mindanao.
He said he wanted to buy arms “where they are cheap and where there are no strings attached and it is transparent.”
“I don’t need jets, F-16 — that’s of no use to us,” Duterte.
On Tuesday, Duterte said he wants all US military personnel out of Mindanao, adding they are a distraction in his anti-insurgency and anti-terror campaigns.
– Contact us at [email protected]