(UR) Philippines — On Wednesday, controversial Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte once again tore into the United States, this time for the U.S. cancelling a planned sale of 26,000 guns to Filipino police. At the same time, the president suggested he may turn to Russia or China for such hardware in the future.
“Look at these monkeys,” Duterte said during a televised speech, “the 26,000 firearms we wanted to buy, they don’t want to sell.”
Citing the burgeoning closeness between China — and, by extension, Russia — and the Philippines, Duterte pointed out his country now has far greater options.
“Russia, they are inviting us,” he said. “China, too. China is open, anything you want, they sent me brochure saying we select there, we give you.”
And besides, the president noted, lots of Filipinos are self-initiated:
“Son of a bitch, we have many home-made guns here. These American fools.”
On Monday, it was reported the U.S. State Department had halted the sale of 26,000 guns to the Philippines’ national police force. The move, explained The Guardian, was motivated by cries of human rights violations against Duterte’s administration:
“The relationship between the two governments has been complicated lately by President Rodrigo Duterte’s angry reaction to Washington’s criticism of his violent and controversial war on drugs.”
CNN, reporting Wednesday on Duterte’s comments, wrote similarly, noting the Philippines “has seen a sharp rise in violence and extrajudicial killings” since the newly-elected president took office and that his “war on drugs has drawn the ire of the international community.”
While it’s true more than 2,300 people have been killed in police actions or by suspected vigilantes since Duterte took office in June, smart money says the cancelled sale is far less about preventing human rights violations in the Philippines, and far more likely about the U.S. not wishing to supply military hardware to a nation who’s clearly abandoned its loyalty to the West.
As Anti-Media has detailed, President Duterte has, in recent weeks, made statements — some, even official — indicating his desire for his nation’s future to unfold in the Chinese and Russian spheres of influence, as opposed to that of longtime ally, the United States.
Regarding China, access to the South China Sea had previously been a major area of contention for the Philippines. China had, and still does, claim nearly all-encompassing sovereign rights to those waters. This had been a problem for Duterte’s predecessor, but the new Filipino leader has proven far more flexible on the issue in recent weeks. Now, China and the Philippines’ newfound cooperative spirit is experiencing its first true test.
Over the weekend, Filipino fisherman tentatively ventured into the South China Sea, near the Scarborough Shoal, after the Chinese government promised them unhindered access. As of Wednesday, China has made good on its word.
President Duterte’s national security advisor, Hermogenes Esperon — while noting an official maritime agreement between China and the Philippines had not been reached — nonetheless told Reuters “the climate has changed.”
“They have coast guard ships there,” Esperon said, “there are no more navy ships and our fisherman are no longer accosted, they are not driven away.”
“In short,” he summarized, “they are more friendly now.”
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