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Duterte turns to Russia for PNP firearms

President Duterte shrugged off reports that the US Department of State has decided to cancel the planned sale of 26,000 assault rifles to the Philippine National Police over concerns on human rights violations in the Philippines.

“Hindi na tayo bentahan nila? Susmaryosep! ‘Yan lang?” Duterte told reporters during his visit to his parents’ tomb in Davao City on All Saints’ Day.

He cited Russia’s offer to the Philippines. “Remember what the Russian diplomat said, ‘Come to Russia, we all have here anything you need’,” said Duterte.

Russian Ambassador Igor Kholaev last month said in a news interview that Moscow is open to working with the Philippines “in any area, any field of possible cooperation.”

He also told the Duterte administration to “formulate your wish list. Think of what kind of assistance you expect from Russia and we will be ready to sit down and discuss what can and should be done.”

The President also met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Laos last September. Duterte said Medvedev told him Russia was ready to lend a hand.

PNP chief Director General Ronald M. dela Rosa yesterday admitted that the sudden refusal of the United States to sell assault rifles to them will affect the law enforcement and internal security operations of his men.

Had the deal pushed through, Dela Rosa said the firing test would have been done by next month or March next year before the actual delivery of the 27,000 units of M4 assault rifles.

The main recipients of the assault rifles are the elite forces of the PNP – the Special Action Force and members of the Regional and Public Safety Units – which are active in the campaign against the Abu Sayyaf Group and other terror groups, as well as other threat groups such as the communist and Moro rebels.

“We are affected in times of time lost because there is a need to arm our units especially those involved in counter-terrorism and internal security operations,” said Dela Rosa.

The United States is bullying the Philippines, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said yesterday.

Lacson described the US treatment of the Philippines as unfair since the country is an equally sovereign state.

The former Philippine National Police chief during the Estrada administration said the US, a long time ally of the Philippines, showed its bully attitude to the world when its State Department decided not to sell 26,000 assault rifles to the PNP after Duterte criticized President Obama who has criticized the government’s deadly anti-drug campaign and his independent foreign policy now shifting towards China and Russia.

The US decision to ban the rifle sale was not a scare tactic but a bully attitude, Lacson said. “Prudence dictates that the US State Department should first show a conclusive investigation that says what Sen. Benjamin Cardin has alleged before issuing a statement banning the sale of assault rifles to our uniformed services,” Lacson said.

Though it may disrupt the implementation of the PNP’s Capability Enhancement Program, the Philippine government should now start shopping in other territories for the PNP’s armament requirements, Lacson said.

A Reuters report earlier said that US has decided to halt the planned sale of some 26,000 assault rifles to the Philippines for use of the PNP due to opposition by Sen. Ben Cardin.

According to the report, Cardin, the top Democrat on the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “was reluctant for the United States to provide the weapons given concerns about human rights violations in the Philippines.”

In September, Cardin also criticized the President over his war on illegal drugs.

“President Duterte, in advocating and endorsing what amounts to mass murder, has chosen the wrong way,” Cardin said.

“Sen. (Patrick) Leahy is absolutely right when he said that a lack of respect for rule of law and democratic governance breeds instability, distrust and sometimes violence,” Cardin added.
(With reports from Aaron B. Recuenco and Mario B. Casayuran)

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Written by Tempo Online

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