Putin offers to sell 26,000 rifles to Philippines

Giovanni Nilles, - The Philippine Star

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – President Duterte said yesterday Russian President Vladimir Putin offered to provide 26,000 assault rifles to the Philippines if the deal with the United States falls through.

But the President was quick to point out that the arms deal with the American firm should proceed because it was in the final stages of negotiation and the transaction must be honored by both parties. 

“Russia offered the sale of the firearms at very soft terms, payable in 25 years and could even be extended for another 25 or at least five years,” the President told reporters during a visit to his parents’ tomb at the Wireless Public Cemetery before dawn yesterday.

“He (Putin) said, if you cannot buy arms anywhere, go to me. You buy one then take one for free. So I get double,” the President said. 

The President went straight to the cemetery after arriving from New Zealand where he had an overnight stay before coming home from Peru to attend the 24th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. He opted to travel to Lima via Auckland rather than the US.

In his arrival speech at the Davao International Airport Wednesday night, the President had a different take: the transaction with the US must be reviewed following the statement of American senator Ben Cardin that he would oppose the deal as the arms might used for “extrajudicial killings.”

The US State Department halted the planned sale of the weapons to the Philippine National Police amid concerns about human rights violations vis-à-vis the ongoing drug war.

Duterte then ordered the cancellation of the deal only to give the go-signal a few days later, according to PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa.

“Why should I, why should I have to belabor the point with Cardin? If he does not want us to be allies, we’ll go to Russia and China. You don’t deprive your ally with arms because your ally has to protect its public and to keep the order internally and to (repel) foreign aggression,” he added. 

The President again lamented that the US was giving the Philippines “hand-me-downs” for a price, a claim that American officials had denied.

Duterte added that while on his way back to the Philippines, he read an article that said there were more than 40,000 killings in the US per year.

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