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  • Writer's pictureMelo Acuna

US smart munitions turned over to the Philippines

Security Adviser O’Brien visits Manila, delivers military hardware

MANILA – US National Security Adviser Roberto O-Brien on his second day in Manila, turned over US$18 million worth of precision-guided missiles to the Armed Forces of the Philippines through the Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. Monday morning.

“I am pleased to transfer a package of precision-guided missiles, munitions, including 100 TOW 2 Alpha missiles, 12 ITAS, and 24 MK-82 to the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” he said during the turn-over rites at the DFA Lobby.

He said the package was a result of the initial phone call between President Trump and President Duterte when they talked about the battle against terrorism “which the Philippines is so valiantly waging and the need for some munitions.”

Ambassador O’Brien said the munitions he brought was to help the Armed Forces against terrorists. He referred to the transfer of munitions as a manifestation of the strong and enduring commitment to the Philippines which has been one of their closest allies in the region.

“We hope these precision-guided missiles, ammunitions, will help the AFP protect Philippine lives in Mindanao and in the needless suffering imposed by ISIS in East Asia,” he said. He added his country is at the forefront of the fight against the ISIS.

He took note of President Duterte’s decision extending the US-Philippines Visiting Forces agreement as he expressed optimism the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs “to continue to facilitate our closer cooperation in combatting terrorism.”

He assured Secretary Locsin the United States hopes to expand its cooperation from disaster relief to maritime security.

“Our nations share a deep interest in upholding the rule of law and the rules-based international order that is unwritten and endured during peace in Asia. Peace, stability, and prosperity across the Indo-Pacific region since the end of the Second World War and we welcome the recent statements by President Duterte and the Secretary at the US-ASEAN Summit, and the East Asian Summit, I wish I had participated, calling for all nations, including a certain large nation in the neighborhood to respect international law in the South China Sea,” he added.

The visiting American security official said earlier this year, they aligned their position on the South China Sea with the Arbitral Tribunal’s 2016 ruling. He assured his Philippine counterpart of their partnership in “protecting your sovereign rights, your offshore resources, and all those rights are consistent with international law.”

He reiterated America’s position the resources belong to the Filipino people.

“They don’t belong to some other country that just because they may be bigger than the Philippines, they can come take away and convert the resources of the Philippine people. That’s just wrong,” he explained. He echoed Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo’s statement last February that “Any armed attack on the Philippine Forces, aircraft or public vessels in the South China Sea, will trigger our Mutual Defense obligations.”

With the RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty about to mark its 75th year next year, Ambassador O’Brien said it marks the importance of the alliance as he expressed optimism the United States and the Philippines “will continue to ensure peace ad prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.

Meanwhile, Secretary Locsin said the precision-guided munitions was “the fulfillment of a promise made by US President Donald J. Trump to President Duterte” during their phone conversation last April.

Secretary Locsin said he looks forward to “training” on the use of these weapons with the best and undisputed military power in the world.” He said the Philippines is the sole country dedicated to freedom and independence of other countries whatever threat in the world.

He referred to the latest materiel delivered by the United States, referring to them as “the best and undisputed military power in the world.”

Secretary Locsin referred to the smart bombs donated by the United States, he said These smart bombs will improve the capability of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in neutralizing identified or specific threats to national security, specifically in counterterrorism operations.

“It is demonstrative of President Trump’s staunch support for the Philippines; to counter both internal and external security threats and emblematic to our to leaders’ trust in each other,” Secretary Locsin concluded.

Over at Camp Aguinaldo, Major General Edgard Arevalo, Commander of the AFP Education, Training and Doctrine Command and AFP spokesperson said the smart munitions “with such capability and precision will aid immensely the AFP in ridding the country of terrorist menaces.”

In a statement released early Monday afternoon, Arevalo said they have been successful in their counter-terrorism operations in Marawi with ordinary munitions fitted in their legacy aircraft.

“But with the advent of these missiles and munitions, we are certain that they will greatly boost our campaigns and contribute to the global drive to fight and defeat terrorists,” he said.

He added AFP Chief of Staff General Gilbert Gapay appreciates the efforts of the Defense Departments of both the United States and the Philippines for the additional materiel. (Melo M. Acuña)

Foreign Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. (extreme left) is briefed by American military officials on the smart munitions delivered today. US National Security Adviser Robert C. O'Brien (center) speaks at the hand-over rites of US$18 million worth of smart munitions to the Philippines as Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. (right) acknowledges the receipt of the equipment to be used in the government's fight vs terrorism in Southern Philippines. (DFA Photos)

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