Pentagon hopes PH stick with US weapons amid Russia’s offer

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MANILA, Philippines — Following Russia’s offer to improve the security capability of the Philippines, the Pentagon has on Wednesday, 06 November 2019, encouraged the Philippines, a defense ally, to keep on using military equipment from the United States.

It may be recalled Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo recently said there is an “ongoing negotiation” between PH and Moscow about the “purchase of certain military equipment.”

However, US defense department spokesperson David Eastburn said, the US is “not gonna obviously dictate to any sovereign nation,” but it will be “a lot easier” to fight alongside its allies if they are using the same equipment.

“We’re not gonna obviously dictate to a sovereign nation, their ability to work with or the purchase of equipment from foreign countries. What I would say is obviously we have a deep history with the Philippines and we do a lot of interoperability, training, a lot of engagements, exercises with our Philippine counterparts and it’s easier to do it when we use the same equipment,” Eastburn told Filipino journalists.

In helping Manila increase its defense capabilities, Moscow “will never use our defense cooperation as a pretext to interfere into domestic affairs,” Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev said last month.

The US may penalize allies who purchase weapons and military equipment from Russia, said Philippine Ambassador to Washington Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez.

The Pentagon should “come out with a good offer because we really need heavy-lift helicopters especially for disasters,” Romualdez said.

The largest nuclear power in the world, Moscow and Washington, have discussed various issues, including tensions in Syria and Ukraine’s annexation of Crimea, and allegations of electoral intervention.

Meanwhile, Russia’s ally China is engaged in a trade war with the US and a land dispute over the South China Sea with the Philippines.

While President Rodrigo Duterte “keeps his alliance with the US, he feels that with all those countries willing to help, (the) the Philippines needs to open up,” Panelo said. (Marian Andrei Sinamban/IAMIGO/CNS)

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