A US-made Remington M4 assault rifle, part of a shipment of around 27,000 the Armed Forces of the Philippines bought in 2014.
File photo
Duterte cancels rifle sale blocked by US over rights concerns
Kristian Javier, Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - November 7, 2016 - 9:59pm

MANILA, Philippines -- President Rodrigo Duterte has announced the cancellation of a shipment of firearms from the United States that the US State Department earlier blocked over human rights concerns. 

"I would like to announce now that the 26,000 M16s that was maybe ordered, or were ordered already, I am ordering its cancellation sa police," Duterte said in a speech at the signing of an executive order reorganizing the Bangsamoro Tradition on Monda.

The order was actually for M4 assault rifles, a variant of the standard issue firearms for the US military since the Vietnam War.

The US State Department had earlier halted the sale of about 26,000 rifles to the Philippines when US Sen. Ben Cardin said that he will oppose it due to concerns over human right violations attributed to the government's war on drugs.

The alleged human rights abuses were linked to the Philippine government’s intensified crackdown on illegal drugs, which has so far claimed the lives of more than 3,000 drug suspects.
The US has called on the government to investigate the killings, earning the ire of Duterte, who saw it as Washington’s way of embarrassing him before the international community.
Philippine officials have downplayed efforts to block the sale, saying the PNP can buy firearms from other sources. Duterte has said Russia and China have expressed readiness to provide the Philippines the defense equipment it needs.

READ: US stops arms sale to Philippines

“We will just have to look for another source that is cheaper and maybe as durable and as good as those made from the place we are ordering them. We will not insist on buying expensive arms,” he added.

Philippine National Police Director General Ronald Dela Rosa earlier said, however, that he was disappointed that the sale might not push through.

"Malaki ang epekto kasi sayang. Nakakasa na ang bill. Supposed to be sa kanila tayo bibili nung mga M4 -equip natin sa public safety forces sa PNP," Dela Rosa said in a televised interview.

He also said that he was prepared to ask the Department of Foreign Affairs for help, but would need to ask permission from the president first.

"Marami namang iba pang source like China. But when it comes to reliability and dependability, hindi tayo masyado sigurado," Dela Rosa said. 

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