Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana admitted on Saturday that the country’s Armed Forces can learn a lot from the Chinese’s People’s Liberation Army.
Lorenzana made the statement after Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua said in an interview that China want to hold military exercises through a military treaty like what the Philippines have with the United States for the last 50 years.
“For military exercises, we are working on it but it might come later because you have legal limits,” Zhao said.
“Without agreement in this regard, we cannot conduct military exercises in the Philippines but if the Philippines would like to send troops to conduct training exercises in China they are most welcome,” the Chinese envoy added.
The Filipino have a 50-year mutual defense agreement with Americans where either one country will come to the other’s assistance if attacked.
Lorenzana agreed with the idea and said that the AFP should learn from China’s PLA, which started from nothing until they have improved their defense capabilities.
“I just watched the video carefully, I’ve noticed that from 1924 up to now the Development of PLA has been going steadily, going up, and maybe from a poorly equipped army in 1924 when they were just guérillas, now they are very modern army so we admire their progress to what it is now,” Lorenzana said.
He also expressed admiration on how China was able to modernize their defense capabilities.
“They just make do with what they have and then pile up the achievement and now they have modern equipment, and that we are going to do also is to start from the basic and maybe we can pile up,” he added.
Lorenzana said he plans to ask China and other countries to help upgrade the country’s defense capabilities.
“We can also bring up our defense industry into a level that can protect us,” he said.
When asked if a treaty with China violates the standing agreement with the US, Lorenzana said no.
“Hindi naman [Not really]. Remember that US and China also have a RIMPAC [Rim of the Pacific] exercise,” the Defense chief said.
He said that it is possible that both countries may enter into an agreement, because there is a “mil-to-mil (military-to-military) agreement on exchanges with military students.
“Malaki kasi meron na tayong mil-to-mil agreement on exchanges ng mga students muna, wala pang malalaking pwersa, but later on as we go along we can also develop the mechanism that we can exercise there (in China) at pwede rin sila dito, but that would be in the future,” he said.
Lorenzana is also eyeing to acquire more bigger military hardware such as “planes, drones or shop, or drastic boats,” to protect the country.
Zhao, for his part, reiterated China’s support to the Philippines’ fight against terrorism.
“China supports Philippines' efforts in fight against terrorism and we’ve delivered some equipment and of course terrorism is the common enemy both China and the Philippines are facing, and we would like to have intelligence sharing and joint training,” he said.
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