President Duterte cancels rifle deal with US

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo R. Duterte cancelled on Monday a rifle deal between the Philippine National Police (PNP) and a United States supplier, saying the country could look for another but cheaper source.

The order for about 26,000 M4 assault rifles from the US has already been made but was placed on hold by the US State Department due to concerns by a US senator over alleged human rights violations in the Philippines.

In a speech during the signing in Malacanang of the Executive Order on the reconstitution of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, the President announced that he has ordered the PNP to cancel the order and said that the country could just look for other but cheaper sources.

“You know, I would like to announce now that the 26,000 of M16 that were ordered already… I am ordering its cancellation by the police. And, we will just have to look for another source that is cheaper, maybe as durable and as good as those made from the place we are ordering them,” President Duterte said.

“We will not insist on buying expensive arms. We can always get them somewhere else. So kalimutan na nila. Sabi, it would be arriving in July of 2017. I am ordering the police to cancel it,” he said.

The President said there is no need to rush the rifle deal anyway since “we have no enemy.”

“Hindi natin kailangan. And you know why? ‘Yang baril na ‘yan bilihin ko? Sino patayin ko diyan? Wala naman tayo kalaban. Tayo-tayo lang nagpapatayan dito,” he said.

“So, what do we get? Because if you buy that, we have to buy bullets. And if you have the bullets… para patayin mo lang kapwa mo Filipino. Or kapwa mo Moro, o kapwa mo Christian,” he said.

The President said the money to be spent for the deal could be used for the Mindanao peace process.

“I will just cancel it, contribute it to the success of the reinvigorated Bangsomoro Transition Committee. Let us just have a moratorium on violence and maybe, we can use the money for some other endeavors,” he said. Cielito M. Reganit/