MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte earlier ditched the U.S. for China, even saying in October last year that it would only be the Asian giant who “can help us.”
But now, amid the continuing clashes between government troops and ISIS-inspired extremists, the Duterte administration is enjoying military support from both superpowers – the one that the President embraced and the other he rejected.
On Wednesday, the Philippines received military assistance from China consisting of three thousand unit of assault rifles, more than five million ammunition, and 90 units of sniper rifles with over 800,000 ammunition to help government forces fight the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups.
China also gave P5 million to the families of the soldiers slain in the conflict in the Lanao del Sur capital and another P15 million for Marawi evacuees.
Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua said more assistance would be given to the Philippines in its fight against terrorists. China gave military aid to the Philippines upon Duterte’s request.
“The Chinese government and the Chinese military forces will continue to firmly support your fight against terrorism,” the Chinese envoy told Duterte during the turnover ceremony on China’s urgent military assistance gratis to the Philippines on June 28 at the Clark Airbase in Angeles City, Pampanga.
Also, earlier this month, U.S. forces extend technical support to Philippine soldiers fighting in Marawi, which included exchange of intelligence reports and training.
Duterte said it wasn’t him who had asked for assistance from the U.S. but nevertheless, he was thankful for America’s help.
“I never approached any American to say, ‘Tumulong kayo [Help us].’ Maski wala man sila tulong. Siguro mayroon [It’s okay if they don’t help. Maybe a little),” he said.
“Nagpapasalamat na rin ako. Nandiyan na ‘yan,” the President added.
Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said the U.S. government’s military assistance to Philippine government troops fighting terrorists in Marawi didn’t need Duterte’s approval because the two countries have mutual defense pacts.
Cayetano cited the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement and the Visiting Forces Agreement as among the military pacts between the two countries.
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