MANILA — Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Monday said the government is “gearing up” to further enhance capabilities against terrorism and violent extremism.
During a press briefing in Davao City, Roque revealed that President Rodrigo Duterte and Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Benjamin Diokno had a closed-door meeting focused on procurement.
“Before the President met with the victims of Maguindanao Massacre — he was in closed-door meeting with the Armed Forces and Secretary Diokno and this had to do with procurement for the Armed Forces of the Philippine, because he knows that we have to be on full alert and ready to meet any challenges arising from these terrorist groups,” he told reporters.
Roque was initially asked about the possibility of terrorists “rebuilding” and “striking back,” and whether these are possible reason for the need to a stronger Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police.
In the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Roque explained that all member states and dialogue partners agreed terrorism is not just a domestic issue as it transcends boundaries.
With the Philippines among the group, Roque added there has been a consensus that “terrorism and violent extremism is a threat to everyone in the region” and they all agreed to cooperate and provide information on the movements of these terrorist groups.
Giving definite response to the question, he said: “we are gearing up.”
As for the acquisition of equipment, Roque said President Duterte expressed appreciation to Russia and China who provided arms to the Philippines.
“Nagamit na nga po. Pero after we received it for free, the President said I will (buy) next time. And I think he already has a shopping list that is why he already had a closed-door conference with DBM Secretary and the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” he disclosed.
Meanwhile, the official said the government is ready to buy arms from the United States had it not been for their resolution to ban the selling of weapons to Manila.
“Ang problema po kasi iyong mga Amerikano ayaw tayong pagbentahan. ‘Di ba po nagkaroon ng resolution iyong Kongreso kaya hindi natuloy iyong pagbili natin ng Armalites. So wala tayong choice kung hindi bumili sa China at saka sa Russia. At pagbebentahan naman po tayo ng China at ng Russia,” he said.
“Tayo naman, we were ready to buy Armalites from the United States, but they were prohibited by the US Congress from selling to us. But we will buy where we can.” (PNA)