DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenza and officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) received Thursday, October 5, another batch of high-powered firearms and ammunitions from China.
Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jinjua handed over the 3,000 M4 rifles, three million rounds of ammunition and 90 sniper scopes to Lorenzana and AFP chief of staff Eduardo Ano in a ceremony held in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
Lorenzana said the M4 rifles and ammunitions will be given to the Philippine National Police (PNP) while the sniper scopes will remain with the AFP.
"The donation is to the military, military to military so it stands to reason that we should receive it first, the DND then received by the AFP chief of staff and because the president directed that they be given to the PNP then we will give it to them," he said.
"According to the directive of the President, they will be given to the National Police. If you remember the PNP tried to buy 26,00 firearms from a dealer with the United States but it has taken them too long to deliver so we are lucky that the Chinese government provided firearms,” he added.
For his part, Año said the firearms intended for the PNP will most likely to be used by it special units.
Last June, President Rodrigo Duterte personally received the first batch of donations from China worth P370 million.
The donations include TY-85 7.62 mm sniper rifle, CS/LR4A high precision rifle, and CQ-A5 5.56 automatic rifle in which majority was given to the PNP.
China has also donated P15 million to the Philippines, which is intended for the victims of the ongoing conflict in Marawi City.
Zhao said China has given at least P5.5-billion worth of grants and donations to the country within a year assuring that more will be provided in the future.
“You know China has always committed to friendly and cooperative relations with the Philippines and today's delivery, handover of the arms and ammunition is another demonstration of the commitment we have,” he said when asked on China’s sincerity to the Philippines amid the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
“We're happy that with the guidance of President Duterte and President Xi Jinping, they are vigorously promoting cooperation in almost areas and one of the highlights is the good relationship that we have resumed between our two militaries,” he said.
Zhao said he is hoping the China and the Philippines will continue to work together in addressing problems in each country.
Lorenzana said the items helps boost the country’s problems on insurgency, illegal drugs and even territorial disputes.
He said the handing over of the donations is also very timely as the government is conducting counter terrorism operations particularly in Marawi City where a conflict caused by the Maute terror group is ongoing.
Meantime, Lorenzana expressed hope that the Marawi siege will end within 10 to 15 days.
“When we were there two days ago we said matagal na ‘yung sampung araw [10 days will be long enough]. Within this month, middle of this month tapos na ‘yan [it's over],” he said.
"Now I can understand the reluctance to finish the job by the end of September, because they were actually thinking of saving the civilians (hostages) inside," he added. (SunStar Philippines)