The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has received new weapons and defense equipment from the United States military worth P183 million ($3.8 million), it announced on Wednesday, June 23.
AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said the defense articles would enhance the military’s counter-terrorism and maritime security capabilities.
The items were delivered by the Joint United States Military Assistance Group-Philippines (JUSMAG-P) at the Clark Air Base in Pampanga last Monday, June 21.
These include nine M3P .50 caliber heavy machine guns, 10 units of 60mm mortars, communication equipment, personal protective equipment, night fighting equipment, and other combat and support equipment.
The items were funded through the national government and US grant assistance.
The transfer of defense articles came at a crucial time when the country is protesting the continuous intrusion of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
Sobejana expressed gratitude to the United States military “for the continued support to our defense capability build-up.”
“With the assistance from our allies coupled with our government’s relentless pursuit of modernizing the AFP, we are confident that our troops will be more capacitated to counter terrorists, conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster response, and in keeping watch over our territory,” he noted.
Meanwhile, Col. Stephen Ma, JUSMAG-Philippines Chief and Senior Defense Official to the Philippines, said the US government will continue to support the AFP’s capacity building efforts through joint trainings and key military equipment transfers.
“Our mutual security collaboration remains a cornerstone of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” he added.
Further, an additional batch of defense articles which are still part of US government’s military assistance is expected to arrive in the country early next month.
The Philippines has been the largest recipient of US military assistance in the Indo-Pacific region, according to the US Embassy.
Since 2015, Washington has provided more than P48.6 billion ($1 billion) worth of security assistance to Manila, the Embassy added.