By Camille A. Aguinaldo
President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Friday, Aug. 17, slammed the United States for warning the Philippines against buying submarines from Russia, saying the helicopters it gave have become unusable.
“You sold us six helicopters. One or two or three crashed already… Is that the way you treat an ally and you want us to stay with you for all times?” he said in his speech during the Hugpong ng Pagbabago convention in Davao City.
“Who are you to warn us?” he added.
US Defense Assistant Secretary for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs Randall G. Schriver last Thursday advised the Philippines not to procure Russian military equipment, saying that the US could be a “better partner” than Russia on defense matters.
Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana has said Moscow offered the Philippine Navy two kilo-class diesel electric submarines with an option of a soft loan if the Philippine government was short of funds.
In his speech, Mr. Duterte pointed out that the Western country was zeroing in on the Philippines regarding the planned procurement but has not warned other Asian countries from buying Russian military equipment.
“You want us to remain backwards. Vietnam has seven, Malaysia has two, Indonesia has about eight. Tayo lang ang wala. Hindi naman ninyo binibigyan kami (We are the only ones with nothing. You’re not giving us anything),” he said.
“Think about it, why did you not stop the other countries in Asia? Bakit kami pinipigilan niyo? (Why are you stopping us?)… Kayo ang magbigay ng submarino? Magi-implode ‘yun (If you’re giving a submarine, it will implode)… just like the helicopters you sold us” he added.
He further said the planned acquisition of submarines was not meant to be directed against the US nor other countries, such as China, because the Philippines remained “underarmed.”