MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is receiving 114 armored vehicles donated by the United States, officials said Thursday, boosting the poorly-equipped military's fight against various insurgent groups in the country.
Washington has provided ally Manila with military support in the past, including a warship offered last month as part of a $250 million aid package to Southeast Asian nations.
Seventy-seven M113A2 of the donated armored personnel carriers (APCs) arrived late Wednesday and the rest will come next month, the US embassy in the Philippines said in a statement.
The donation boosts the Philippine army's inventory of armored vehicles by over a third to 455, said spokesman Colonel Benjamin Hao.
The Philippine military still has to install armament and communication equipment on the vehicles, but Hao said they would be deployed soon.
"Our forces are now more protected and they will have more mobility because they will be in a tracked vehicle," that is more suited for rough terrain, he told AFP.
He would not specify where they would be sent, only that "they will be in areas where they are needed".
The vehicles were offered as part of a US military program of giving away excess equipment, but the Philippines paid 67.5 million pesos ($1.4 million) to cover transport costs, officials said.
The Philippine military is among the most poorly-equipped in the region and has been battling a nationwide communist insurgency as well as various Muslim outlaw groups in the undeveloped south for decades.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino has sought to modernize the armed forces by acquiring new ships and aircraft in recent months.
Aquino has proposed to parliament a 25 percent hike in defense spending next year to a record 25 billion pesos ($552 million).
Earlier this year, the military received 28 M113A2 vehicles, many refurbished with cannons and remote-controlled turrets, from Israel.