US-Duterte P75-B arms deal amid pandemic is atrocious -- CPP

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today denounced the US State Department’s issuance of a certification last April 30 approving the Duterte government’s request to buy P75 billion worth of attack helicopters, missiles and other war matériel and services.

“The approval is utterly atrocious especially since it came at a time when the Filipino people are urgently demanding adequate public health response and immediate economic relief amid the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic and the inept response of the Duterte government,” said Marco Valbuena, Chief Information Officer of the CPP.

“Amid the pandemic, Duterte’s plan to spend P75-billion to buy extravagantly-priced weapons is condemnable,” said Valbuena.

The P75-billion (or $1.5 billion) arms deal covers the procurement of six AH-64E Apache attack helicopters, 300 Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) kits; 200 FIM-92H Stinger missiles; 18 M2G1 rocket launchers; 18 M299 missile launchers; 5,000 2.75-inch rockets; 80,000 30-mm rounds training devices. The contract also specifies “communications systems, helmets, simulators, generators, transportation and organization equipment, spare and repair parts, support equipment, US Government and contractors technical assistance, technical and logistic support services, and other related elements of logistical support.”

“These planned purchases aim to boost the AFP’s machinery for conducting aerial bombardment and strafing which has been proven both by history, specifically in the Vietnam war, and by recent cases as highly ineffective against guerrilla warfare. It is also causes destruction of the environment, endangers people’s lives and livelihood, and causes psychological trauma especially on children,” added Valbuena.

“It is reprehensible that Duterte and his incompetent generals and economic managers continue to insist that the reactionary government does not have enough funds to respond to the public health crisis, yet are pursuing their plan to spend P75-billion to buy weapons to be used against the Filipino people,” stressed Valbuena.

He pointed out that such amount is more than sufficient to address the combined needs for mass testing and contact tracing; mass hiring of nurses and doctors, and raising the meager salaries of health workers; procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators and hospital beds; and the construction of additional quarantine facilities and even hospitals.

“The Filipino people demands the cancellation of this arms purchase as this gravely undermines the majority of the Filipino people hit hard by the health crisis and the regime’s failed response to the pandemic,” said Valbuena.

“The budget for this arms purchase must be immediately realigned to fund the emergency public health and economic measures to alleviate the sufferings of the people.”

“If this deal pushes through, the American government, as well as American companies, such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin, will be complicit in the Duterte governments grave human rights abuses and brutal war of suppression against the Filipino people,” added Valbuena. “We also urge the democracy- and peace-loving American people to push for the cancellation of the US State Department’s arms deal with the Duterte government.”

Valbuena also warned against “direct military aggression” as the contract specifies that foreign contractors will be allowed a 6-week period for fielding, training and logistical support.

US-Duterte P75-B arms deal amid pandemic is atrocious -- CPP