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New machinery for humanitarian campaign in south–military

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 01:01pm (Mla time) 09/10/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will use $1.2 million dollars worth of brand new engineering equipment from China for its “humanitarian offensive” in Basilan, Sulu, and the Zamboanga peninsula, the chief military engineer said Monday.


Senior Colonel Liu Zhongxiang, China’s defense and military attaché to the Philippines, led a ceremonial turnover of the six motorized graders and six bulldozers to Major General Cyriano Austria, AFP chief of engineers, at Camp Aguinaldo.

“This will be used in our humanitarian offensive in Mindanao, Basilan, Jolo, and the Zamboanga peninsula,” Austria told reporters.

The humanitarian offensive was launched simultaneously with the intensified offensive against the Abu Sayyaf, where fighting in Basilan and Sulu since July 10 have left 57 soldiers and over 80 bandits killed.

The newly-activated AFP National Development Office, headed by Major General Jaime Buenaflor, will have operational control over the deployment of the heavy machinery to the south, Austria said.

In his speech, Liu said the Chinese and Philippine militaries have entered a “new phase of cooperation and development.”

“I’m very glad to be here to witness the turnover of the military assistance which symbolizes the good relationship and mutual trust between our two countries and two armed forces,” he said.

Filipino and Chinese defense officials started dialogues in 2004, when then defense secretary Avelino Cruz Jr. visited Beijing.

Eight of the 12 vehicles from China will be brought to Mindanao as soon as the Navy cargo vessel or landing ship tank (LST), which ferried military engineers and their equipment to Basilan last week, returns to Manila, Austria said.

Two others will be given to the Philippine Air Force Engineering Wing while the remaining two will be given to the Philippine Navy Construction Brigade, he said.

Austria said the vehicles that were turned over on Monday were part of what China pledged in 2006, adding that in 2005, that country donated the same number of engineering equipment.

Last week, Chinese Defense Minister pledged 15 million renminbi in equipment to the AFP, following a closed-door meeting with Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. and General Hermogenes Esperon Jr., AFP chief.

Austria welcomed the donations, saying similar equipment in the AFP inventory were donations from the United States as far back as the 1960s and the 1970s.

He added that the military has prioritized spending for fighting troops rather than on engineering equipment.

($1= P46.70)

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Written by joelguinto

Mon+00:002007-09-10T05:40:49+00:00+00:0009b+00:00Mon, 10 Sep 2007 05:40:49 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am09

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