President Duterte is still not keen on accepting the offer made by the United States for the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) unless he is sure that the act is done in good faith.
Duterte made the statement after he revealed that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, and Secretary of Defense James Mattis expressed wanting to meet him.
In a letter read by Duterte, the US is offering numerous “state-of-the-art” military equipment to reaffirm the Trump administration’s support for the AFP Modernization Program. The equipment includes Bell combat utility helicopters, ScanEagle gulf stream, Cessna 208 aircraft.
The US is also hoping to partner with the Philippines in significant defense procurement through the Lockheed Martin’s F-16 multi-roll fighter platform.
However, Duterte is not convinced on buying such military hardware from the US, noting how some American senators thumbed down the sale of firearms to the Philippine National Police (PNP) in 2016.
“I have nothing America, and I’m sure wala rin kayo (the same goes for you). But mine is more of just what is the reality. Ngayon bumabawi sila (Now they are trying to get back), three cabinet members in one letter,” Duterte said Thursday evening.
“Prove to me first that you are in utter good faith but I do not want to communicate with them by just…I want to meet three of them mamili sila, ‘di ako pupunta America (but they should make a choice. I will never go to America),” he added.
The President also said that he will not go to the US just to meet with Pompeo, Ross, and Mattis.
“There will never be a time na pupunta ako (that I will go to) America. Sabihin ko sa kanila mukhain ko sila sige. Mag-debate tayo para klaro-klaro (I will face them, let us have a debate so we can all be clear),” he continued.
Duterte then said that the country has no use for the items listed down by the US in its letter sent to Malacañang through US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim.
“Wala man akong problema (I have no problem with that). But if you are thinking na bibili ako sa inyo ng (that I will buy from you) Martin [Lockheed] F-16 multi-roll fighter… For what?” Duterte said.
“Against China? Against whom? Against the ASEAN countries? Against Indonesia? Malaysia? Wala man tayong away (We are not at war with anybody),” he added.
The President then argued that if ever he decides to buy any of the items, there is no assurance that they will really arrive to the country, or if they really are new ones and not just refurbished.
“I would lime to remind America–all of them. How sure na makuha ko ‘yung binili ko (that I will get what I bought)?” Duterte asked.
“Nagbili tayo ng anim na helicopter. Sabi nila refurbished galing daw sa NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization). ‘Yung mga natapos nila na gamit sa NATO, apparently, overused pinagbili nila sa atin (We bought from the helicopters. They said they were refurbished ones from NATO. Apparently, the ones they sold to us were overused ones),” he added.
Duterte then said what he wants for the Philippines are just propeller-drive planes for counter-insurgency measures.
“Wala man tayong ibang kalaban (We don’t have any other enemy). The NPA (New People’s Army), the ISIS (Islamic State), Abu Sayyaf. We don’t need the F-16. And yet they dangle after binaboy nila tayo (they besmirched us),” he said.
“We do not need any F-16s, it would be utterly useless to buy it, but I need attack helicopters and small planes for the counter-insurgency. ‘Yun lang po (That is all),” he added.
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