Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte today revealed that the United States had refused to sell his nation certain, unspecified weapons recently, warning that he is willing to “break up with America” and that President Obama can “go to hell.”
Duterte did not indicate what arms he was seeking, but has previously complained that the US is obsessed with selling his nation warplanes they don’t want or need. He added that the Philippines could easily buy the arms they need from China and Russia, and that both have offered to fill the gaps created by the US refusals.
Though shifting to another country’s arms after generations of total reliance of US made weaponry looks to be a major challenge for the Philippine military, arms exports are a highly competitive industry, and it’s doubtless that both China and Russia would love to replace the US, particularly in one of its traditionally most solid markets.
The White House tried to be dismissive of the comments, claiming they are “at odds with the warm relationship” between the US and the Philippines. They also denied having been informed of any changes in Philippines’ policy, suggesting they intend for now to just pretend that nothing is happening.