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Duterte to Trump’s men: ‘Prove good faith’ on defense assets offer

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FILE photo of President Rodrigo R. Duterte delivering his speech during the groundbreaking ceremony of the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge and Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge in Intramuros, Manila on July 17, 2018. -- ALFRED FRIAS/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter

President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Thursday announced that three Cabinet officials of United States President Donald J. Trump wrote him a letter asking him to purchase US military equipment for the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Mr. Duterte, however, was not impressed with the offer of Secretary of State Michael Richard Pompeo, Defense Secretary James Norman Mattis, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Louis Ross, Jr.

“Prove to me first that you are in utter good faith,” the President said in his remarks at the 12th Founding Anniversary of the Eastern Mindanao Command in Davao City on Thursday evening, Aug. 23.

The President said he “want(s) to meet the three” US officials, but he “will not go to America.”

“There will never be a time that I will go to America. I will tell them, ‘Alright, let’s debate to make everything clear’,” he said in mixed Filipino and English.

He added: “(W)e are friends, but remember we are friends because you made us a colony years ago….”

This came after Mr. Duterte criticized the US government for warning the Philippines from purchasing submarines from Russia.

“We have been warned not to buy submarines from Russia. You meet me in a forum, and I will invite everybody [who’s] interested. You state your case why you are against my country acquiring submarines. Give me the reason why and make it public,” he said in his speech in Davao City last Aug. 17, during the convention of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago, the regional political party of his daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.

In their letter to Mr. Duterte, Mr. Trump’s Cabinet men said in part: “We are writing you to reaffirm this administration’s strongest support for your efforts to modernize the Armed Forces of the Philippines and our commitment to continue to work with your Congress to support the strategic endeavors, recent decisions to procure and grant upgraded surveillance and aircraft system such as Bell combat utility helicopters and ScanEagle, Gulfstream and Cessna 208 aircraft exemplify our continuing commitment for the breadth and strength of our alliance.”

“We know, however, that our nations can do even more to integrate our economic and security concerns, especially we hope to partner in other significant defense procurement of our mutual benefit including through the Lockheed Martin F-16 multi-role fighter platform and your attack helicopter platform among other US systems,” they also said.





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