Fulfilling a promise he made to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in a phone call in April, President Trump approved the donation of $18 million in precision weapons to the Philippines. U.S. National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien personally handed over the weapons — which included 100 TOW-2A missiles, 12 ITAS, and 24 MK-82s — for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Manila on Monday.
According to Philstar global, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said upon accepting the donation, “These smart bombs will boost the capability of our armed forces in neutralizing identified or specific threats to national security, particularly in counterterrorism operations.”
The Philstar Global also noted that O’Brien said, following his meeting with Locsin, “We hope these precision-guided missiles and munitions will help the AFP protect Philippine lives in Mindanao and end the needless suffering imposed by ISIS-East Asia.”
O’Brien added that the transfer of these precision weapons underscores Washington’s “enduring commitment” to its “critical alliance” with Manila, its longtime ally and former colony.
The Trump administration has been working hard diplomatically to keep the Philippines in the U.S. orbit and allied against China, while Duterte continues to flirt with China, hoping to play both sides for benefits.
Earlier this year, Duterte terminated one of the signal U.S.-Philippines defense agreements – the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the two countries. He later suspended that termination for six months.
A few weeks ago, Duterte suspended the abrogation of the VFA for another six months. The initial suspension would have expired in December.
O’Brien expressed hopes the U.S. would expand defense cooperation with the Philippines following Duterte’s decision to again extend the suspension, reported Philstar Global.
“The United States welcomes President Duterte’s recent decision to extend the U.S.-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement. We look forward to the VFA continuing to facilitate our closer cooperation in combatting terrorism,” O’Brien said.