Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says he will stop taking second-hand military weapons from the United States and will, instead, purchase brand-new systems as the country keeps fighting terrorism in the south.
“I will no longer accept second-hand military equipment,” Duterte told soldiers at an army base on the southern island of Mindanao on Friday. “I do not want those given by the Americans. During my time, I will not have second-hand ships. It has to be brand new.”
The Filipino president said he was willing to “spend double the money” on modern weapons systems as long as they were new and that he would look at buying equipment such as planes, boats, drones and guns from China or Russia, two traditional rivals of the United States.
Since 2000, Washington has given Manila military aid nearly $800 million worth of drones, helicopters, assault rifles, and combat gear including tactical radios, night-vision devices and spares.
Philippine marines walk next to their V-300 light wheeled armored vehicle after engaging Daesh terrorists in Marawi, on the southern island of Mindanao on June 2, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Philippine fighter jets on Saturday launched new air raids on Marawi in a bid to drive the Takfiri group out of the area.
Plumes of smoke could be seen over the now mostly deserted city after fighter jets pounded the potential terrorist hideouts, with armed forces using a combination of ground and air operations in their battle against the terrorists.
The clashes erupted on May 23 when gunmen waving black flags of Daesh rampaged through the mostly Muslim-populated city in response to an effort by security forces to arrest a Filipino on the US government’s list of most-wanted terrorists. That individual and his gunmen have pledged allegiance to Daesh.
Residents carry their belongings as they walk along a deserted street as they flee from their homes in Marawi on the southern island of Mindanao on June 3, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Nearly 90 militants have been killed over the past days in the efforts to drive them out of the city and about 2,000 civilians are still trapped in the militant-held areas.
The Philippine president has imposed martial law across the southern third of the county to prevent collateral damage. The Daesh militants have forced 200,000 Marawi residents to flee.
The Maute group is one of the less than a dozen new armed groups that have pledged allegiance to Daesh and formed a loose alliance in the southern Philippines.
It has been blamed for a bomb attack that killed 15 people in the southern Davao City —Duterte’s hometown — last September and a number of attacks on government forces in Lanao, although it has faced setbacks from a series of military offensives.