China National News
Published Wednesday 9th November, 2016
Duterte cancels purchase of 26,000 police rifles from U.S.
- Duterte’s relations with U.S. have suffered due to difference in political ideology
- Obama administrations’ Asian policies failed in Malaysia, Philippines aligns with China
MANILA, Philippines – In recent months, two versions of diplomatic affairs between Philippines and America have emerged – one is a cordial one, where U.S. comes off as Manila’s strong ally, protecting it externally from other southeast Asian forces and internally from extremists – but there’s another version of these historic bilateral ties – the version that Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte propagates.
For several years, Philippines has been a political and business ally of the United States.
While it invests billion of dollars in the ever growing Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry in the country, from a political viewpoint – U.S. has also been the top most supplier of ammunition.
However, in the six months since President Duterte took charge, political relations between the two countries have soured dramatically. From badmouthing Obama in the public domain to declaring that Philippines would break all ties with the U.S. during a trip to China – experts believe that Duterte is driven the relationship to its ultimate doom.
In a strategic move, Duterte won Beijing’s trust and assurance, cracking a multi-billion dollar investment deal in infrastructure development.
Now, Duterte has claimed that he ‘ordered’ the cancellation of a deal, involving the purchase of 26,000 police rifles from the United States, days after U.S. said that it was halting the sale due to concerns related to human rights violations.
Duterte said he would seek China or Russia’s help in purchasing arms instead.
“We will not insist on buying expensive arms from the United States. We can always get them somewhere else. I am ordering the police to cancel it. We don’t need them. We will just have to look for another source that is cheaper and maybe as durable and as good as those made in the place we are ordering them,” Duterte said.
“Who will I kill with them? We don’t have foes. We are just the ones killing each other here. So what’s my hurry? I don’t have to hurry. I buy bullets for what? For the Filipinos?” the president questioned.
The tiff came to the fore after Washington questioned Duterte’s battle against illegal drugs earlier this year, leading to the Filipino president unleashing a barrage of statements, often laced with offensive language, against the U.S. and Obama in specific.
Since Duterte came into power, over 4,000 people have been killed in police operations or by suspected vigilantes as part of his government’s anti-drug campaign.
Causing further uproar this week, Duterte, apparently jokingly, said that he asked his military to go to Russia to buy missiles to counter rebel groups in the country.
But his spokesperson Ernesto Abella was quick in downplaying the statement claiming it was merely a “light-hearted statement.”
Meanwhile, even though the Philippines has been engaged in a decade-long territorial battle related to the South China Sea – with China, Duterte’s alliance with China has further added to tensions between the Philippines and U.S. as it would mean that U.S. is slowly losing its grip in Southeast Asia.
This, after Malaysia recently bagged a billion-dollar deal ($34 billion) from China.
China has also been showering the two countries with billions of dollars in loans and investments and in return has achieved inroads into strategic areas.
The Philippines has agreed to bilateral talks on China’s claim to territories in the South China Sea, while Malaysia has also committed to its first major arms purchase from Beijing, a fleet of patrol boats.
Earlier, the Malaysian President Najib Razak was said to be offended as U.S. Justice Department launched an investigation into the disappearance of $1 billion from the state sovereign wealth fund.
Throughout his presidency, Barack Obama has made U.S. influence in Asia a top priority.