“This is possible, but we are already buying from different countries. We still want our modernization equipment to come from several countries, no monopoly by any country. This is also part of our independent foreign policy,” Esperon said, whether he feared that the United States might seek to prevent the Philippines from buying Russian-made weapons.
According to the official, who serves as Director General of the country’s National Security Council, the Philippines intended to procure arms from “as many countries as possible” – including China, Russia, the United States, and Japan – as long as they have interoperability, reasonable prices and good quality.
“It will be good if we can have some deeper defence relations with Russia, and we will pursue it, in the same manner, we are pursuing relations with Japan, Korea, and the United States – because the United States is our military ally … We still have the mutual defence treaty [with the United States], but that does not mean that our military relations will be with the United States only. We want now military defence cooperation with Russia, with China, with the Middle East, with Israel,” Esperon noted.
The official also noted the Philippines’ interest in Russia’s Mi-171 heavy-lift helicopters, which he personally found a “very good” aircraft during his visit to the Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant.
Philippine Undersecretary of National Defense Cardozo M. Luna told Sputnik earlier that Manila considering buying Mi-171 helicopters from Russia, with the contract potentially signed by the end of the year.
Philippine Security Adviser Lauds Russia’s Help in Rebuilding Marawi After Clashes With Daesh
The Philippines values Russia’s help in rebuilding the city of Marawi in the country's southern region of Mindanao, which was attacked by Islamist militants affiliated with Daesh*, Philippine National Security Adviser and Director General of the National Security Council Secretary Hermogenes C. Esperon told Sputnik.
“The more notable of Russian cooperation is the reconstruction and rebuilding the city of Marawi. Remember, we are very proud that it is the Islamic capital city in the Philippines, but the terrorists have destroyed it,” Esperon said, noting that Russia provided funds and construction trucks for rebuilding the city.
The national security advisor also noted that Moscow was providing Manila with data on terrorists that might come to Southeast Asia from hotspots in other regions, including Syria.
“Russia also supplied us with armaments which we needed very badly … While we were fighting the war, we received several AK-47s … So Russia has been very helpful,” Esperon said.
The battle for Marawi between Philippine security forces and extremists affiliated with Daesh affiliates, including the Maute and Abu Sayyaf jihadist groups, ravaged the city for several months in mid-2017. The battle left the city largely ruined, completely destroying thousands of buildings and partially destroying thousands more. The crisis displaced virtually entire 200,000-strong population.
In October 2017, the government declared the city liberated from militants. Restoration work began in 2018.
*Daesh - a terrorist organisation banned in Russia and numerous other countries