PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the cancellation of the procurement of 26,000 rifles from the United States.
In his speech yesterday at Malacanang after signing the executive order reconstituting and expanding the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, Duterte said the Philippines “will just have to look for another source” of the firearms.
“I am ordering its cancellation. We will just have to look for another source that is cheaper and may be as durable. We will not insist on buying expensive arms,” the President said.
A Reuters report last week cited sources saying that US Senator Ben Cardin opposed the sale of the firearms to the Philippine National Police because of concerns about human rights violations in connection with the Duterte administration’s war on illegal drugs.
Duterte signed the executive order creating an expanded Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) in a bid to make the peace process in Mindanao more inclusive.
From 15, the new BTC will have 21 members tasked to draft the enabling law in establishing a Bangsamoro government in Mindanao.
Eleven of the members will come from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) including the the chairman of the BTC. Ten of its members will be nominated by the government, it was learned.
Three of the government’s nominees will be from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) after Duterte directed the new BTC to consolidate the 1996 agreement with the MNLF and the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro with the MILF into a single enabling law.