Manila: The Philippines said Tuesday it was set
to sign a "substantial" deal to buy military equipment from China, but insisted it should not impact on its close ties with the United States.
The logistics deal is to be signed by armed forces chief
General Ricardo David, who left today for Beijing to meet with
senior members of the People`s Liberation Army (PLA).
The visit is aimed at "building bridges of goodwill" and
to boost defence relations between the Asian nations,
Philippine military spokesman Brigadier General Jose Mabanta
"It would formalise the very good relationship between
our countries in terms of exchange of logistics, which the
Philippines will be greatly benefiting from," Mabanta told
Although specific details of the deal were not
immediately available, Mabanta described its benefits as "very
substantial" for the 130,000-strong Philippine force.
He said the it would beef up the ill-equipped and often
cash-strapped military, which despite US assistance has not
been able to crush decades-long communist and Muslim
Mabanta emphasised the planned deal did not signify a
shift in military alliances, stressing that the Philippines
valued Washington`s continued help against Al-Qaeda-linked
militants on the country`s main southern island.
"There are no political implications," he said.
Hundreds of US troops have been stationed in the southern
Philippines since early 2002, helping to train their Filipino
counterparts in how to combat the Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf
The Philippines is also a former US colony and remains
one of the US` closest allies in Asia.
The US has previously expressed concern over China`s
growing military and economic muscle in the region, mostly by
ploughing millions in dollars of investments and assistance to
its weaker neighbours.
When asked if the logistics deal was to buy military
equipment from China, Mabanta said he was not sure.
However the military said previously that China last
month gave it 33 pieces of heavy equipment, such as
bulldozers, worth about USD 3.9 million.
The local army used the equipment to build roads and
bridges to bring outreach programmes in remote areas where
Maoist New People`s Army (NPA) rebels operate, as well as in
rehabilitation effort in places hit by disasters.
The NPA is the armed unit of the Communist Party of the
Philippines, whose rebellion that began in 1969 was initially
supported by Beijing.