0801 GMT April 22, 2018
“As part of what I got from Russia when we were there for almost 24 hours, we will have the Kalashnikovs,” Duterte said on Wednesday, making a reference to his brief visit to Moscow in May.
The Filipino president, who was addressing a gathering of soldiers and police near Manila, would not elaborate on what types of the assault rifle Russia would procure to the South Asian country.
Defense department spokesman Arsenio Andolong also declined to elaborate, but he said the arms shipment would be a first from Russia to the Philippines.
“As far as I can remember, the Russians have never supplied us with any form of material in the past,” Andolong said.
In search of new and firm bonds with Russia and China, Duterte, who came to power last year, has sought to downgrade his country’s military cooperation with the US, a former colonizer of the Philippines. Problems between the two countries escalated when the previous administration in Washington openly criticized Duterte’s massive war on drugs. That was also a major factor for Duterte to turn to China and Russia as his country’s armed forces, among the weakest in the region, have a double-front battle against the communist militants in rural areas and militants linked to the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in the south. China also donated about 6,000 rifles and thousands of rounds of ammunition to Manila this year.
Duterte tried to allay concerns about the unraveling alliance between the US and the Philippines, which has lasted for 70 years, by allowing a joint military drill last month south of the country.