President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and US President Donald Trump share a light moment prior to the bilateral meeting at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City on November 13, 2017. (Robinson Niñal Jr./Presidential Photo)

MANILA -- President Rodrigo Duterte said the Philippines is now open to buy firearms from the United States anew after it stopped its purchase of arms in 2016.

“Well, America has been helpful. In the purchase of arms, we have a bad experience but they have a new policy now. We’re going to reconsider,” Duterte said in in an interview with Pastor Apollo Quiboloy in Davao City on Friday (June 7).

In 2016, the US State Department halted the sale of firearms to the Philippines over concerns on human rights violations in relation to the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.

Duterte emphasized that when the Philippines stopped purchasing arms from the US, it started looking for cheaper and better arms.

“We'll buy if we think we need that kind of particular… But I'd like to say to the Americans and to the officials -- in Washington, when you deprived us of the arms, we started going around scouting for cheaper and better arms. And there were contracts already, memorandum of intent -- intent to buy something like that. So we will not impair that obligations,” he said.

He said he could not abandon deals signed by the Philippines with Russia and China, the two countries that provided assistance to the Philippines especially when the Marawi siege took place in May 2017.

“When we needed, in the hour of our need, we needed the arms, Russia and China gave it to us practically free,” Duterte said.

“You know I'm a Filipino. You have to have a sense of gratitude. At least honor the contract. Nothing else,” he added.

The President also expressed readiness to cooperate with the US on its new policies to permanently stop immigration services in Manila but has no intention of ever going to war against China.

He also said that he had much respect for US President Donald Trump.

“Do not ever think that the suspension of the processing for citizenship and special visas and all of these, there's a deeper meaning to that,” Duterte said.

“But we are ready to cooperate. This I have to say, I will not go to war with anybody against China because that will be the end of the world,” he added.

Duterte, who described China as “good” and America “helpful”, also doubted that the two countries would go to war amid the ongoing trade dispute.

“America and China, alam nila (they know that) a war is the most useless thing in their arsenal. Tapos talaga ang mundo nito (It will really be the end of the world),” Duterte said.

“When they say that, if you blow it all, it is 100 times bigger than Hiroshima and Nagasaki. You think we will survive? See you in heaven,” he added. (PNA)