President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday thanked the Japanese government for donating coast guard ships as well as for giving the Philippines other forms of aid.
In his speech during the 115th anniversary of the Philippine Coast Guard, Duterte said the Philippines needs the ships because it does not have enough ships to watch over its more than 7,000 islands.
“Let me start by giving our sense of gratitude to the Japanese ambassador for our heartfelt thanks for giving us ships, some are here, others are coming, and your desire to help the Philippines,” Duterte said.
The BRP Tubattaha arrived in Pier 13 in Manila on Wednesday. It is the first of 10 Parola class Philippine Coast Guard vessels from Japan.
In an interview in September, PCG spokesperson Commander Armando Balilo said the new ships would be a great help in maritime law enforcement, particularly in the government’s war on drugs.
“Limited din yung mga resources natin. Pero may mga parating tayong mga barko and hopefully, makakatulong yung mga yon,” Balilo said then.
On Wednesday, the president also recalled the friendship and cooperation between Japan and the Philippines.
Duterte said Japan is one of the biggest sources of aid to the Philippines. He said Japan even helped Davao City when he was still a mayor, citing Japan International Cooperation Agency projects that benefited the people of Mindanao.
“And now I’m the president and you continue to pour the aid that you feel you want to extend to us and again I would like to thank Japanese people the emperor and your government,” he said.
Duterte has been realigning from close ties with the US, citing the need for an independent foreign policy for the Philippines.
In response to concerns raised by the US as well as the UN and the European Union over an increase in drug-related killings since he became president, Duterte has dared them to withdraw military and development aid from the Philippines.
Also on Wednesday, he announced that the has instructed the Department of National Defense not to prepare for military exercises with the US in 2017.
Source and image: Philstar