By: Genalyn D. Kabiling
Amid improving bilateral defense ties, Russia has donated a shipload of weapons and military vehicles to the Philippine military to help boost its counterterrorism capability.
The military donation, received by President Duterte and local defense and security officials yesterday, included 5,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles, 20 army trucks, 5,000 steel helmets, and a million rounds of ammunition.
The President witnessed the turnover of the military equipment after his tour inside one of the two Russian ships docked at the Manila port. Duterte did not deliver any speech but was seen thanking the Russian defense officials for the military aid.
The donation came a day after the Philippines and Russia signed an agreement on military and technical cooperation on the sidelines of a defense ministers’ meeting in Clark, Pampanga. A contract on supplying weapons and ammunition to the Philippines was also signed the other day.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said the government welcomes the Russian military aid amid enhanced defense cooperation between the two countries.
“This is the occasion for the donation by Russia of AK-47 and 20 trucks which indeed we really need,” Esperon said in a media interview after the ceremony. “The AK-47 are not in our inventory so we will see how they can be distributed because units can’t have different weapons but more likely, this will be concentrated in specific units,” he added.