China gave 3,000 assault rifles to the Philippines on Thursday as a gesture of “friendly and cooperative relations”, the second shipment of rifles to the Philippines this year as President Rodrigo Duterte seeks closer ties with old foe Beijing.
Philippines Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the Chinese weapons were supposed to go to the military, but Duterte felt the police needed them more.
“We are lucky that the Chinese government provided the firearms,” Lorenzana said at a news conference, where stacks of rifles were on display.
The rifles, worth about $3.3 million, will all go to the Philippine National Police (PNP), which needs to fill a shortfall of guns after some U.S. legislators blocked the sale of about 26,000 M4 rifles to the police last year.
The freeze on that sale came amid concerns about the United States arming a police force accused of widespread human rights abuses during Duterte’s fierce war on drugs, which has killed thousands of Filipinos.
Duterte, who has been critical of the Philippines-U.S. alliance, is eager to develop closer trade and political ties with old foe China.