SUAL, Pangasinan: The Philippines will turn to Russia and China for arms if the United States makes good on a reported threat to cancel a deal for 26,000 rifles for the Philippine National Police (PNP), President Rodrigo Duterte said on Wednesday.
Beijing has sent a brochure while Moscow has invited Philippine security officials over to shop for arms, Duterte told reporters.
The President belittled a report on Tuesday that said US Senator Ben Cardin would oppose the arms deal amid concerns over hundreds of killings linked to the Philippine government’s anti-drug campaign.
“That’s the problem with America. I look up to them, but the problem, I lost my respect … Look at the monkeys. The 26,000 rifles we are buying from them, they don’t want to sell anymore. Son of a b***h. There are a lot of air rifles here,” the President said in Filipino.
The President made the remarks before sending off 17 Vietnamese fishermen freed by authorities after being caught poaching off the Ilocos coast in September.
Duterte said the Russian ambassador had invited him to visit Moscow, which, the President said, has all sorts of equipment needed by the military. He said he had instructed the Defense secretary to go to the Russian capital.
“Even China. China is open. Anything you want. They sent me a brochure,” the President said.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd told reporters in Malacañang the US rifle deal was unlikely to affect the “many business transactions between the Philippines and the US” that he described as “really based on mutual benefit to each other.”
Deal still on
The PNP chief, Director General Ronald de la Rosa, said Wednesday afternoon the deal was still on, based on a November 1 letter from supplier Global Defense Sales.
In the letter, a Global Defense Sales executive wrote that rifle manufacturer Sig Sauer had contacted the US Department of State and found that the “license was being processed as normal.”
Earlier on Wednesday, the PNP chief said in the radio interview that the Philippine government had yet to give advance payment for the procurement of the 26,000 assault rifles.
“Nothing is lost on the part of the government. We’d lose only time just in case,” de la Rosa said.
The PNP chief added that the Philippines could always find a new supplier.
“We can’t force them (US) if they don’t want to sell. We can look for other arms suppliers like Germany, Russia,” he said.