US government not cancelling rifle deal with PHL — Andanar

MANILA, Philippines — Contrary to Reuters report, the United States is not cancelling a plan to sell 26,000 rifles to the Philippine National Police (PNP), a Palace official said on Thursday.

Presidential Communications Office (PCO) Secretary Martin Andanar said his American friend who is a reporter in Washington D.C. told him that the statement of US Senator Ben Cardin about the rifle deal has been twisted by Reuters.

”When the news came out, my American friend who is also a reporter in Washington D.C. talked to me and said the news of Reuters has been completely twisted. He said that was not what Sen. Cardin has been said,” Andanar said in a radio interview.

According to Reuters report, the US State Department has stopped the sale of 26,000 rifles to the PNP following opposition from Cardin over concerns about human rights violations in the Philippines.

”Senator Cardin was just referring to terrorists because there are alleged some instances in the past that the rifles have reached the terrorists,” Andanar said.

”Number two, it’s between the State Department and the US senator. Just like in any arms deal, the senators really intervene. But as far as the US government is concerned, they are not really cancelling. They are just really giving respect to the senator,” he added.

Andanar, however, said if the US would eventually cancel the arms deal, “there are many other sources where we can buy.”

He said the statement of the US lawmaker might be part the political noise due to the upcoming presidential election.

”It’s an election year in the US. Perhaps this noise is just like in our situation every time there is an election year, candidates create noise,” Andanar said.

Andanar said the communication department of Malacanang has strategies to counter foreign negative press but he refused to reveal them.

”I cannot really divulge the strategies because I don’t also want the opposition to see our strategies. But we are already executing some and we will execute more,” the PCO chief said.

Amid the negative media reports and criticisms hurled against the Duterte administration, Andanar believed that “the truth will set us free.”

”We are appealing for the patriotism and nationalism of the Filipino,” he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte lived up to his election campaign promises to fight corruption, criminality and illegal drugs.

Most of the Filipinos have embraced President Duterte’s leadership based on recent surveys despite some minor groups criticizing his war on drugs. Jelly Musico/