Some of the donated firearms and ammunition turned over by Beijing to Manila on Thursday will be used by the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the Duterte administration’s war on illegal drugs, according to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
In a news conference after the ceremonial turnover in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, Lorenzana said it was President Rodrigo Duterte who ordered the distribution of the weapons and ammunition to the PNP.
“If you remember, the [PNP] tried to buy 26,000 firearms from [dealers]in the United States but it has taken them too long to deliver, so we are lucky that the Chinese government [has]provided [us]firearms,” he explained.
In November 2016, the US government halted delivery of firearms to the PNP, arguing that it would only be used in the war on illegal drugs that the US has been criticizing.
About 3,000 assault rifles, 90 sniper scopes and three million rounds of ammunition worth $3.3 million or P168 million were donated by China.
“It will all go to the PNP except 100 [of the guns that]were retained by the Armed Forces but the [sniper]scopes will also be retained by the military to be used for counter-terrorism,” Lorenzana said.
The assault rifles and the ammunition will be distributed to the PNP and, according to him, they may also be used by the police for counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism and maritime security.
AFP chief Gen. Eduardo Año said the PNP is in need of additional and especially long firearms and noted that sharing the donation will help the police “do the job.”
The sniper scopes will be used in sniper rifles that are being used by government troops against the terrorist Maute Group in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, according to Año.
Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua, in the same news conference, said the handover of the guns and ammunition signifies that China is “committed to be friendly and cooperative [in its relations]with the Philippines.”
“Today’s delivery, handover of firearms and ammunition, is another demonstration of the commitment we have… [the Philippine and Chinese presidents]are vigorously promoting cooperation in almost [all]areas. One of the highlights is the good relationship that we have resumed between our two militaries,” Zhao added.
“We’re now fighting terrorism together but we need to work together to enhance, to trust so that we can build a good cooperation between our militaries that will contribute to peace and stability in this region,” he said.