MANILA, Philippines — Philippine National Police Director General Ronald Dela Rosa said that President Rodrigo Duterte told him to go ahead with a US arms deal the president earlier wanted cancelled as long as it is not stopped.
Dela Rosa said in a press briefing Monday morning that he was able to speak to the president during their trip to Malaysia. He said that Sig Sauer, the supplier of the rifles, said that the processing of the documents is going smoothly.
The president then said to continue with the deal, according to Dela Rosa.
“We have the blessings from the president to continue all with the transaction kung walang harang,” he said.
The US State Department halted the planned sale of some 26,000 assault rifles to the PNP when US Senator Ben Cardin said that he would oppose it over human rights concerns related to the government’s war on drugs.
In response to this, Duterte announced that he is ordering the PNP to cancel the order of rifles from the US, adding that the Philippines will just have to look for a source of cheaper ones that are just as durable as rifles from the US.
Duterte often makes statements that are either clarified or corrected by his spokespersons and subordinates. A recent comment on suspending the writ of habeas corpus has been variously explained as “just an idea”, “a hyperbole” and “a stern warning.”
Dela Rosa said however, that if the sale of the rifles is again stopped by the US, he is sure the president will tell him to drop the deal altogether.
“Kasi yung nga, para lang tayong kawawa na hinaharang tapos makikiusap, magmamakaawa. Hindi po yan pupuwede sa atin,” Dela Rosa said, adding that the Philippines will be paying for the equipment anyway.
“Hindi naman ito grant, hindi naman ito aid, bakit kailangan natin mag-hihingi?” Dela Rosa added.
The US State Department, as a matter of procedure, informs the US Congress about international arms sales, according to a Reuters report.
Tags: assault rifles, Ben Cardin, Duterte, flip-flopping, human rights, International arms sales, Philippine National Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa, Philippines, Philippines' war on drugs, President Rodrigo Duterte, Trump, Trump election, U.S., U.S. Rifles, US arms deal