Malacañang on Thursday clarified that the Philippines is not limiting its options on weapons procurement to China and Russia, saying the military and Defense department are studying “other options.”
“The President has also tasked the Defense and military establishment to study the options, to source military equipment from either China and/or Russia but they’re not closing the options to these two alone,” Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said said in a news conference.
Abella said the conversations between the Philippines and China are “basically friendly.”
“The whole purpose is to be able to establish warmer relationships. I’m not aware that there are preconditions to the conversation. However, there is an openness now to do so,” he told reporters.
The Philippines has traditionally leaned on the United States, its longtime treaty ally, for its security needs.
On Wednesday, President Rodrigo Duterte said the Philippines may acquire weapons from China or Russia, two countries with which Manila has no defense treaty or agreements.
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar clarified that Duterte’s announcement does not necessarily mean that the Philippines is leaning toward China or Russia.
“When you create an independent foreign policy, it’s really just saying that we are a sovereign state, we are not beholden to any country and once and for all, we can say to ourselves that we are standing up on our own two feet, you know. That’s it,” Andanar said.
“We re not severing ties with our allies… Our friendship with the Americans go a long, long way. As far as I’m concerned and as far as I know, our relations with our allies continues,” he added. CATHERINE S. VALENTE