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AFP welcomes military aid from China despite West PHL Sea dispute

Despite Chinese activities in Philippine-claimed territories in the South China Sea, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday said it welcomes the more than P700 million ($14 million) in military aid being offered by China.

"Bilang isang bansa kinikilala po natin ang ating pakikipagkapit-bansa. Kung meron pong naghahatid ng tulong o naghahandog ng tulong sa atin base sa ating pangangailangan, wala naman po sigurong masama kung ito ay ating titingnan at ating tatanggapin bilang isang kapwa bansa," AFP Public Affairs Office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said.

Arevalo likewise thanked China for the offered assistance which he believes is "not imposed or not burdened with condition."

"Tayo naman po ay nagpapasalamat sa ganyang klaseng tulong at lalung-lalo na kung ito ay makapaghahatid sa ating Armed Forces ng karadagang kakayahan at karadagang ayuda upang higit nating magampanan ang ating misyon," he said.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Tuesday announced China's assistance following President Rodrigo Duterte's late Monday night meeting with Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua in Malacañang.

Lorenzana said China would grant the Philippines an estimated $14 million worth of small arms and fast boats for free, in addition to the $500 million long-term soft loan for other equipment. 

The Philippines won an arbitral case against China at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in July, but Duterte said he is willing to set the ruling aside. 

"Well, ang pwede nating masabi diyan, these are matters that are of consideration ng ating mga kasalukuyang pamahalaan," he said.

Arevalo added the AFP trusts the wisdom and vision of Duterte in accepting the aid from China because of his access to several information.

"Iba ang kanyang nakikita sa kasalukuyang reyalidad at iba ang kanyang nakikita kung ano ang priority niya sa panahon ngayon with respect to dealings with our neighboring countries," Arevalo said.

"He has access to several other understandings as to the realities and the adjustments that we have to make, not only in foreign relations but also with respect to the requirements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines," he added. —Joseph Tristan Roxas/KBK, GMA News