Amid the ongoing territorial dispute and concerns over the newly entitled territory called Benham Rise, the Philippines’ defense chief reveals on Sunday that some Chinese firms are offering military equipment to the country.
According to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, some Chinese companies are set to sign, on the final day of China’s Belt and Road forum, a letter expressing their intent to supply an array of defense equipment to the Philippines.
Aside from the incoming help from the Chinese firms, a US$500-million loan from the Chinese government will also be on standby, which the Philippines can draw from for funding once the modernization fund is fully geared up.
However, the defense czar, clarified that a technical team will first have to inspect and check the equipment being offered, while the Department of National Defense (DND) will have to consult with the Philippine Navy, Army and Air Force about their defense requirements.
“We’re not saying we will buy or not. But if we need anything from the Chinese defense industry, we will procure using the loans they will offer us,” Secretary Lorenzana said.
The high-rank official also said that a $14-million (P700-million) China grant from December, which will be used to purchase 4 fast boats, 200 sniper rifles, and several hundreds of RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades] with ammunitions that will be delivered by the end of this year.
He assured that the Chinese equipment follow North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) specifications.
The Duterte administration’s top defense official also addressed concerns that “help” could present a clear conflict of interest, in the midst of a territorial and maritime dispute with China.
“Can we get them? Yes. We should separate our dispute in the South China sea, from our relationship with the Chinese,” the official said.