President Rodrigo Duterte revealed on Sunday that the Philippines has decided to accept a deal from China to order firearms payable over 25 years to boost the country’s security.
The move comes as the two nations push for good relations amid the ongoing territorial dispute over the South China Sea.
In a Sunday speech before personnel of the Northern Luzon Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines at Camp Servillano Aquino in Tarlac City, Duterte did not provide further details about the kind of guns the government would acquire from Beijing, the Daily Inquirer reported.
“China is pressing me. The firearms are already available for me to receive. They are really prodding me,” he said in a mix of English and Tagalog.
Duterte added that he asked Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to send a military official to Beijing to receive the weapons.
“The firearms are already there and (China) really wants to give them to us. So it’s really now easy for us. We don’t have to ask (help) from other (countries),” he said.
The president added: “If it’s a grant payable in 25 years, that’s practically giving… It’s obvious that China wanted to give us (firearms).”
In November, the Philippines, which has relied heavily on the U.S. for weapons, ships and aircraft, canceled the order of more than 26,000 rifles that were meant to arm the national police force, according to Reuters.
The decision follows reports that Washington would stop the sale because it violated human rights amid Duterte’s drug war.
“We will not insist on buying expensive arms from the United States. We can always get them somewhere else. I am ordering the police to cancel it. We don’t need them,” he said in a televised speech.
Unlike his predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, Duterte decided to reach out to China as a way for his administration to pursue an independent foreign policy.
During his state visit to Beijing in October, the president told a group of Chinese businessmen and government officials that he chose to cut ties with the U.S. “both in military and economics.”
In their meeting, President Xi Jinping and Duterte agreed that the two countries would properly manage differences, and fully improve and make greater progress in bilateral ties.
Duterte’s state visit marked a new development period in bilateral ties and cooperation, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Geng Shuang, told Xinhua News.