Duterte thanks China for firearms, ammo vs Mautes

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  • President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday led the handover of the military aid package from the People’s Republic of China intended for the counterterrorism efforts in Marawi City

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 28) — They came in four cargo planes: multi-million pesos worth of high-power assault and sniper rifles with millions of ammunition.

These were the first batch of military aid from China which was turned over to the Philippines on Wednesday at the Clark Airbase in Pampanga.

And President Rodrigo Duterte was no less than grateful.

"To Ambassador Zhao, please relate our sincerest thanks to President Xi Jinping and the government of the People's Republic of China for its military aid package I will receive today in behalf of the Philippine government," he said.

Duterte recounted that during his first visit to China in October last year, Beijing expressed willingness to "unconditionally help the Philippines."

And when the Maute group launched a rebellion in Marawi City last month, China reiterated its offer to help, he said.

Related: Duterte tells troops to 'crush' terrorists

The chief executive said that as a result, Manila and Beijing entered into two agreements where China committed to turnover ₱590-M worth of military equipment to help in fight the ISIS-inspired terrorists.

"This not only strengthens our country's commitment to support each other during times of need, but also highlights the dawn of a new era in Philippine-Chinese relations," Duterte noted.

Related: Duterte vows to rebuild Marawi

Chinese ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua said the military assistance came at the right time.

"Your Excellency, Mr. President, I know you are fighting terrorism, ISIS-related terrorism in the south. China is also a victim of terrorism," Zhao said.

The Chinese envoy added that a second batch of military equipment was already being prepared to be delivered to the Philippines in the coming months.

The Chinese government also donated ₱5M to families of soldiers slain and wounded in Marawi.

Talking to reporters after the event, the President said the firearms would have to pass the Defense department inventory before it could be equally divided as needed by the military and the police.

He also said he would be spending more time in Mindanao where fighting was ongoing to check on the morale of the troops.

Ferocity, not brutality

The President, who also later spoke at the 140th anniversary Philippine Chinese Charitable Association, Inc. (PCCAI) at the Manila Hotel, repeated why he declared martial law in Mindanao — to stop the Mautes whom he described as not having any ideology or God, but were were just there to kill and destroy.

"They have to be dealt with, with the same ferocity but not the brutality," Duterte said. "I will not be part of any cruelty or brutality, but we will have the ferocity to defend our values of democracy and sovereignty."

He said, "We do not decapitate. We do not hang people. All we need is one shot and if he goes down, that's it. We cannot do the things that they are doing because we are supposed to be a republic, a democracy, and a member of the United Nations, and there are rules to be observed."

Related: Duterte: I was forced to declare martial law to prevent civil war

The President added that he was praying for the conflict to end soon so that he could lift martial law. But until then, military rule would continue "until the last terrorist is taken out."

CNN Philippines' Anjo Alimario contributed to this report.