Dela Rosa awaits Duterte's 'final instruction' on US rifle procurement

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa wants to wait for President Rodrigo Duterte’s “final instruction” before finally pulling the plug on a planned purchase of over 27,000 rifles from the United States.

Mangutana ko sa iya ugma [kung] unsa’y final instruction niya (I’ll ask tomorrow what his final plans are),” Dela Rosa told Rappler in a phone interview on Tuesday, November 8.

In a speech at the Malacañan Palace on Monday, November 7, Duterte said he was ordering police to cancel the deal, following reports that a US senator would block the sale.

"I am ordering the police to cancel it,” said the President.

"We will just have to look for another source that is cheaper, maybe as durable and as good as those made from the place where we're ordering it," he added.

Dela Rosa will be joining Duterte in his trips to Thailand and Malaysia this week.

The PNP was set to purchase P1.7 billion worth of SIG M400s from a US-based company as part of its Capability Enhancement Program. The procurement “will increase the percentage fill-up for long firearms from 35% to 86% thus enhancing the firepower capability of Public Safety Forces and other PNP units involved in the campaign against terrorism, a serious threat to global peace and security,” Dela Rosa had earlier told media.

But US Senator Ben Cardin, a member of the US Senate’s Foreign Relations committee was reportedly set to block the deal over concerns of alleged human rights violations in Duterte’s “war on drugs.” Arms makers in the US are required to inform Congress regarding overseas deals.

The rifles are meant to be issued to the PNP's public safety forces, municipal and police stations, and other national support units.

Dela Rosa emphasized that there were many other sources for the rifles but admitted should the cancellation push through, the procurement would be set back by 4 months to a year. The procurement process in the Philippines usually takes time as bids must first be made public and validated because they are awarded.

This isn't the first hiccup in the PNP's links to the US. In October, the San Francisco Police Department announced it would be stopping a long-running training program with the PNP because of concerns over supposed human rights violations. – Rappler.com