US rifles purchase pushing through – Dela Rosa

Bea Cupin

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US rifles purchase pushing through – Dela Rosa
Despite President Duterte's announcement of a cancellation, the PNP insists it has his 'blessing' to push through with it

MANILA, Philippines – It’s a deal the Philippines will continue to pursue after all.

Nearly a week after President Rodrigo Duterte said he was ordering the Philippine National Police (PNP) not to buy assault rifles from a US-based company, Director General Ronald dela Rosa said the planned purchase would push through – barring hiccups.

“As far as the PNP is concerned, we have the blessing of the President to continue with the transaction as long as it’s not barred. But if they stop it, I’m sure the President will tell me to stop it,” said Dela Rosa on Monday, November 14.

On November 7, Duterte said he was ordering the PNP to drop its plan after reports that a US senator planned on stopping the Philippines’ purchase of over 27,000 rifles from a US-based company. US weapon makers must inform Congress through the State Department when selling to foreign entities.

The apparent stalling of the PNP’s plans comes amid Duterte’s plan to pursue a foreign policy “independent” of the Philippines’ longtime Western ally, the United States.

But Dela Rosa insisted that contrary to an exclusive report from Reuters, the processing of documents was still ongoing before the US State Department.

“I talked to him personally during our trip to Malaysia. We reported to him that the processing of the documents is going on smoothly according to Sig Sauer. So when I explained that to him, he said, ‘Okay, you can continue,'” said Dela Rosa.

Ewan ko kung itutuloy ni Presidente ‘yung sinabi niya dahil iba naman ‘yung [US] presidente ngayon. Mag-kaibigan naman sila ni Donald Trump (I’m not sure if the President will push through with his earlier pronouncements because the US president is different now),” quipped Dela Rosa, referring to the United States’ president-elect.

But it’s not the US’s executive branch that plans to intervene in the sale, but the legislative branch, which has a huge say on foreign policy in America.

Dela Rosa sought to downplay the American senator’s stand on the matter.

“Siguro na-play up lang ‘yung comment ng isang senator. Tinanong pa nga niya [Duterte] kung ‘yung senador na ‘yun eh tumakbo uli, kung nanalo or natalo. Mukhang hindi ata tumakbo, mukhang incumbent,” said Dela Rosa of Maryland Senator Ben Cardin, who “was reluctant for the United States to provide the weapons given concerns about human rights violations in the Philippines.”

(Maybe a senator’s comment was played up. Duterte even asked me if that senator ran again, if he won or lost. I don’t think he ran. I think he’s an incumbent.)

Cardin is a junior senator from Maryland who was elected to a second straight term in 2012. His term does not expire until 2018. He had expressed plans to stop the sale of weapons as a ranking member of the US Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations. – 

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.