Gov't: Russia donating weapons, military equipment for PH counter-terrorism

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 12) — The Russian government is giving the Philippines high-powered firearms to help in the fight against terrorism.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Wednesday said the 5,000 rifles with 1 million rounds of ammunition will arrive in the country on October 22, along with 20 military trucks.

These will formally be turned over to the Philippine government on October 25, and will be used for the government's counter-terrorism efforts, Lorenzana said.

"Gusto nilang tumulong sa atin to fight terrorism dahil sila rin kasi also fighting terrorism sa kanilang bansa and they want to help the fight against global terrorism," hesaid.

[Translation: "They want to help us fight terrorism because they are also fighting terrorism in their country and they want to help the fight against global terrorism."]

He stressed the weapons will come as a donation and there will be no cost to the Philippine government.

President Rodrigo Duterte also mentioned Russia's donation in a speech Wednesday at the groundbreaking ceremony of a housing project called Scout Ranger Ville in Barangays Calumpang and Tartaro in San Miguel, Bulacan.

"We will have the Kalashnikov," Duterte said. The Kalashnikov is a renowned brand of Russian weapons named after Mikhail Kalashnikov, who invented the original Kalashnikov or AK-47 in 1947. It was considered the most popular assault rifle in the world.

Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev told CNN Philippines in June the Philippines and Russia are working on the legal framework to set up arms deals.

In November 2016, Duterte floated Russia as a possible arms supplier for the Philippine National Police after he cancelled an order for 26,000 assault rifles from the United States.

PH-Russia exercises

Lorenzana said Duterte is also open to having joint military exercises with Russia.

Pending an agreement for its execution, Lorenzana said a small group of selected Philippine troops may be allowed to go to Russia to participate in trainings there.

"Ang sabi nila kung wala pang agreement na hindi pa sila makapunta dito, pwede na tayo magpadala sa kanila (They said of there is no agreement yet for them to come here, we can send people there)… First to observe exercises and then later to participate, Lorenzana said.

Duterte has reached out to boost the country's tepid ties with Russia which has spanned four decades.

Related: Duterte: 'The Russians are with me, so I can't be afraid'

He met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on May 23, part of a four-day official visit to Russia. But this was cut short because of the clashes between government forces and terrorist groups in Marawi in Mindanao.

Read more: Duterte meets with Putin amid Marawi crisis

CNN Philippines' VJ Bacungan contributed to this report.