Following intense criticism of the United States for attempting to intervene to prevent the Philippines’ acquisition of Russian made Kilo Class attack submarines, with Washington threatening grave consequences should Manilla go ahead with the deal, President Rodrigo Duterte has blamed the U.S. for attempting to hamper this country’s military modernisation efforts. The President went on the slam the American F-16 Fighting Falcon single engine light fighters the country had sought to sell to the Philippines as “utterly useless,” indicating a likely cancellation of plans to acquire the costly jets. He stated regarding the fighter acquisition: “What I need are just propeller driven planes for anti insurgency. We don’t need F16 and yet they dangle before us after they insulted us.” The government in Manilla had previously expressed frustrations with Western nation’s restrictions on arms sales, cancelling a prolific deal to acquire light helicopters from Canada in February 2018 due to what were perceived as highly intrusive restrictions placed by Ottawa on the aircrafts’ use – amounting to an interference in the Southeast Asian state’s internal affairs. Non Western suppliers, namely Russia and South Korea, have by contrast imposed no similar terms and offered arms at far more competitive prices.
With the Manilla having expressed its frustration at Washington’s own extensive restrictions placed on the use of munitions, and its failure to provide even basic rifles for the Philippines’ police force for counterinsurgency due to its opposition to the country’s campaign, these rifles were supplied at a fraction of the price by Russia – in what was widely seen as a goodwill gift to make inroads in the strategically critical Southeast Asian state. The United States’ attempt to block the sale of attack submarines, while Western states were unable to provide a competitive alternative of their own and most would in any case very likely be unwilling to do so, may well have been a last straw which could prompt Manilla to cancel the planned acquisi
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