MalacaÑang on Thursday called it a loss for the US if it stops a planned sale of around 26,000 assault rifles to the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Speaking to reporters, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the Philippines can still look for other sources of firearms and that the aborted deal will ultimately be the loss of the arms supplier.
“But then again, this [sale]is a process that the US government and the US Senate will have to fix themselves,” he added.
It was earlier reported that Sen. Ben Cardin, a top-ranking Democrat in the Senate foreign relations committee, would ask for the halt of the firearms deal.
The PNP was supposed to receive 27,394 basic assault rifles amounting to P1.7 billion next year.
The aborted sale was apparently an offshoot of the American government’s concerns over alleged human rights violations under the Duterte administration, particularly in its war on illegal drugs.
President Rodrigo Duterte, in a speech on Wednesday in Pangasinan, indicated that he might turn to Russia and China for the weapons if the US stops its sale.
According to the President, he had “lost respect” for the US, calling those behind the decision “fools” and “monkeys.”
“Look at these monkeys, the 26,000 firearms we wanted to buy, they don’t want to sell,” Duterte said, adding that Russia and China had shown a willingness to sell arms to the Philippines,
He, however, said he would wait to see if his military wanted to continue using US weapons.
“Russia, they are inviting us. China also. China is open, anything you want, they sent me brochures, saying we select there, we’ll give you… But I am holding off because I was asking the military if they have any problem. Because if you have, if you want to stick to America, fine.”
CATHERINE S. VALENTE