Senator Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday called the reported decision of the US State Department to stop its planned sale of firearms to the Philippine National Police (PNP) a “bully attitude.”
Lacson said it was “not fair” for the US, a longtime ally of the Philippines, to halt the sale of some 26,000 assault rifles.
“The United States’ decision to halt the planned sale of 26,000 rifles to the Philippine National Police was not a scare tactic but a bully attitude towards a longtime ally – which is not fair, the Philippines being an equally sovereign state,” Lacson, former chief of the PNP, said in a statement.
A Reuters report said the planned sale of rifles was halted following opposition from Senator Ben Cardin over concerns about alleged human rights violations in the Philippines.
“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,” Lacson said.
On Tuesday, Lacson said Senator Cardin’s opposition was based merely on his own opinion.
Lacson, chairman of the Senate public order committee, said there is no proof yet that killings were state-sanctioned.
He said the PNP should now start shopping in other territories for their armament requirements, citing other sources such as Israel, Belgum, Russia and China.
Senator JV Ejercito echoed the sentiment of Lacson, saying the US does not have a monopoly of good firearms manufacturers.
“PNP can now look at Israeli, Austrian or German-made high-powered rifles which are even more superior. American legislators and officials getting wrong information as well. They are basing their judgment on effort to destroy Duterte in international media,” Ejercito said in a text message.
Ejercito said the US State Department’s move was more of a “sales opportunity loss” for the American supplier, rather than a loss to the PNP.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, for his part, scored the US government for supposedly focusing on alleged extrajudicial killings (EJKs) in the Philippines.
“Concerned sila sa so-called EJK but they don’t mind the hundreds of thousands of killings in Mexico,” Sotto said in a text message.
“Israel, Austria and Russia also produce the same or better assault rifles and ammo. With enough funding, the Philippines can also be good producers,” Sotto added.
PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa admitted that the halting of the planned sale of rifles will have an impact on the country’s campaign against terrorism but not on the fight against illegal drugs and criminality.
President Rodrigo Duterte, for his part, was unfazed by the said reports.
“Karaming de bomba dito,” Duterte told reporters in Davao City, indicating that the Philippines didn’t need to buy the rifles from the US. — RSJ, GMA News