Navy studying how 4 boats from China will fit in its program
The Philippine Navy is assessing how to integrate four patrol boats it received from China last week.
Besides the 12-meter patrol boats, China also gave the Philippine Navy 200 grenade launchers and ammunition.
The donation was part of a $14-million military assistance from China.
It followed the provision last year of about 6,000 assault rifles and hundreds of sniper rifles and included small arms and ammunition, said Cmdr. Jonathan Zata, spokesperson for the Navy.
“They are brand-new equipment,” Zata told reporters on Monday, adding the Navy was assessing how to integrate the material and provide long-term logistical support.
The Chinese rifles went to the Philippine National Police, helping to fill a shortfall after US lawmakers blocked the sale of about 26,000 M4 rifles to the police in 2016.
The freeze on the sale came amid concerns about the United States arming a police force accused of widespread human rights abuses in President Duterte’s bloody war on drugs, in which thousands of suspects had been killed.
Zata said 25 sailors went through weeklong training in operating the patrol boats.
The boats are equipped with machine guns that fire the heavy 7.62-mm ammunition.
Arsenio Andolong, spokesperson for the Department of National Defense, said the equipment turned over to the Navy were the third and last batch of the military assistance from China.
Fight vs drugs, terrorism
Andolong said the grant was initially awarded to the Philippines by China in December 2016 in support of the government’s war on narcotics and terrorism.
He said most of the items covered by the grant were identified by the major services.
China’s donation is part of a new wave of diplomacy to engage a country with which Beijing has a bitter history of territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
China’s donations so far remain small compared with arms transfers from the United States, a defense treaty ally of the Philippines, since the 1950s.
Washington has in the past five years provided Manila $282 million of military aid, including drones, ships, surveillance planes and assault rifles.
The United States and the Philippines have for decades held joint military exercises and the programs remain intact despite repeated threats last year by Mr. Duterte to cancel them and abrogate bilateral defense pacts because of US expressions of concern over the killings in his war on drugs. —With a report from the wires