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US halts sales of 26K rifles to PH

  • Written by Alfred P. Dalizon
  • Published in Nation
  • Read: 230

Lacson’s reaction: We do not stand to lose anything

PLANS of the Philippine National Police to purchase over 20,000 brand-new assault rifles to be used by the police in fighting crime and insurgency has been temporarily affected following a report that the United States State Department has halted the planned sale of some 26,000 such weapons to the PNP after one American senator said he would oppose it.
   
In June last year, the PNP opened the pre-bidding for the purchase of the assault rifles with the PNP inviting accredited police suppliers to participate in the bidding for the supply of 20,482 units of caliber 5.56 basic assault rifle.
   
The former Aquino government allocated P1.3 billion for the acquisition of the modern weapons with at least 12 PNP suppliers participating in the pre-bidding held at the PNP conference room in Camp Crame. People’s Tonight sources, including at least one PNP general, said that Sig Sauer won the bid to supply the PNP with the assault rifles and that a group of PNP officials are set to go to the US this year to discuss the deal.
   
However, news broke out yesterday that the US State Department halted the planned sale of some 26,000 assault rifles to the PNP after Senator Ben Cardin said he would oppose it.
   
Reuters reported that former PNP chief-turned-Senator Panfilo “Ping” M. Lacson, in a note posted in his Facebook account, pooh-poohed the aborted sale, saying “we do not stand to lose anything except one less gun store to choose from.  There are tens of other countries that manufacture better and probably cheaper assault rifles than the US.”
   
The wire agency also quoted Sen. Lacson as saying that the development gave “more reason for our Department of National Defense to revive our self-reliance program so we can produce our own weapons and ammunition and other military hardware.”
   
Reuters quoted aides of Cardin, described as the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, that the senator “was reluctant for the United States to provide the weapons given concerns about human rights violations in the Philippines.”
   
The relationship between the United States and the Philippines, a long-time ally, has been complicated lately by President Rodrigo Duterte’s angry reaction to criticism from Washington of his campaign promise to rid the country of illegal drug trafficking and abuse.
   
But Lacson pointed out: “I have yet to see an investigation with the conclusion that massive and state-sanctioned human rights violations were committed under the present regime’s drive against illegal drugs, so I would take US Sen. Cardin’s statement as his own opinion and nothing more.”