Duterte calls Washington ban on arms sale to PNP ‘scare tactic’ by ally that treats Philippines ‘like a dog on a leash’
PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has branded the US State Department’s decision to stop the sale of 26,000 firearms to the Philippines as another scare tactic of the US.
“’Yan lang pantakot niya sa akin. Hindi siya magpabili ng armas? eh karaming de bomba dito. (They're [US] using it to scare me. They don't want to sell their weapons? We have a lot of bomb makers here),” the President said.
The Philippine National Police's scheduled purchase of M4 rifles from the U.S. was stopped after top Democrat Senator Ben Cardin said he opposes providing weapons to the Philippines amid concerns about human rights violations caused by Duterte’s bloody campaign against illegal drugs.
Earlier, Duterte directed military officials to look into the possible procurement of weapons from Russia and China.
“Remember what the Russian diplomat said? ‘Come to Russia. We have here anything you need,’” he said.
Duterte has doused its traditional ally, Washington, with vitriol as the Filipino leader said the US has been treating the Philippines “like a dog on a leash.”
Aides earlier said Cardin, the top Democrat on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was reluctant for the United States to provide the weapons given concerns about human rights violations in the Philippines.
The U.S. State Department informs Congress when international weapons sales are in the works.
Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa yesterday said the plan of the United States Department to halt the sale of over 20,000 brand new assault rifles to the country may affect the PNP campaign against terrorism which would be more effective if they were able to acquire the high-powered guns.
“Sa laban natin sa terorismo makakaapekto, mas maging epektibo sana tayo kung mabibili natin ito,” Dela Rosa said.
However, Dela Rosa quickly said that the public has nothing to worry about because the PNP still has old guns to use for the campaign and the PNP forces are always ready to fight until the last drop of their blood.
“Pero ‘wag kayo mag-alala, meron pa rin tayo mga luma, lalaban kami up to the last drop of our blood and last round of ammunition,” he said.
When it comes to the PNP fight against illegal drugs, Dela Rosa said the plan will not affect their campaign stressing that policemen can fight using their short firearms and even with their fists.
“Walang epekto, gamitin natin ito (rifles) sa anti-terrorism campaign, Ang malalaking threat group at PAGs ang pwede gamitan ng malalaking armas,” Dela Rosa said.
“Ang mga pulis pwede lumaban gamit malilit ng baril, kahit makipagsuntukan na lang kami,” he added.
Dela Rosa said that if the procurement will not really push through, the purchase of firearms will be delayed because the bidding process will have to start all over again. However he pointed out that the government would lose nothing because no advance payment was made for the US guns as it is not allowed by the procurement laws.
It is high time for the Philippine government to lessen dependence on foreign military suppliers by tapping local gun manufacturers for firearms for police and military forces.
Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto made the proposal amid the decision of the U.S. State Department to halt the sale of about 26,000 assault rifles to the PNP.
“It is a wake-up call for us to stop totally relying on foreign suppliers. This is another kind of pivot we need. To tap our domestic industries for the equipment needs of our policemen and soldiers,” said Recto.
“If some of the things can be made locally and the products are of the same price and quality as the ones bought abroad, then let us manufacture them here,” he said.
Recto cited the existence of a vibrant local firearms industry which has been exporting its products for many decades now.
“What is Made in Marikina is as good as what is Made in America,” said Recto, referring to one local gun manufacturing complex in Marikina.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson said that though it may disrupt the implementation of the PNP's Capability Enhancement Program (CEP), the PNP should start shopping for armaments in countries other than the United States.
“Taiwan, for example, has stopped buying their police firearms from the US and is now procuring their standard 9 mm pistols from Germany, which they say are better and more suitable to their law enforcement needs. There are other sources like Israel, Belgium, even Russia and China,” he said.
Lacson said the US’ decision to halt the planned sale of the rifles to the PNP was “not a scare tactic but a bully attitude towards a longtime ally -- which is not fair, the Philippines being an equally sovereign state.”
“Prudence dictates that the US State Department should first show a conclusive investigation that affirms what Sen. Benjamin Cardin has alleged before issuing a statement banning the sale of assault rifles to our uniformed services,” he said.
Recto said by buying local, government will be creating local jobs and giving the manufacturing sector a much-needed boost.
“The Filipino tax pesos must help Filipino firms.
“Buy local, create jobs. This should be the new mantra of the DND (Department of National Defense), DoTr (Department of Transportation) and other government agencies for their procurement programs,” he added.
The United States Department is mum about the reported halting of the sale of assault rifles to the Philippines.