DND studying China’s $500M loan offer for boats, drones

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana

MANILA — The Armed Forces of the Philippines is eyeing the acquisition of fast boats, drones, night-vision goggles and communications equipment from China under a soft loan offered by the Beijing government.

According to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, the offer of a low-interest, long-term loan amounting to $500 million was being studied by the Department of National Defense (DND) for the current AFP modernization program.

Lorenzana said the Philippines was set to receive a one-time grant of 100 million yuan (about $14 million) from China for defense equipment, following the meeting of President Duterte with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua on Dec. 19 at Malacañang.

The Chinese envoy conveyed that the grant of P720 million worth of firearms is in support of the President’s war on illegal drugs and terrorism.

Lorenzana, who joined the meeting, said the Philippines will have to tailor-fit the list of equipment to be obtained within the offered grant.

He said the DND would see to it that the purchases would match the modernization needs of the AFP.
“We at the DND and AFP are still preparing our list,” Lorenzana said, adding that his aides would visit China next year to inspect the weapons being offered.

China has also pledged to help build a mega drug rehabilitation facility located in a military camp north of Manila.