Even Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson described the decision of the US State Department to halt its planned rifle sale to the PNP as a bully attitude.
“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 said in a statement.
The former PNP chief earlier stressed it has yet to be proven if there were human rights violations committed in the intensified anti-illegal drug campaign under the Duterte administration.
Lacson said the US State Department should first show a conclusive investigation that affirms what US Sen. Benjamin Cardin has alleged before issuing a statement banning the sale of assault rifles.
An exclusive report from Reuters noted that the US State Department is meaning to stop the planned sale of some 26,000 assault rifles to the PNP after US Senator Ben Cardin said he would oppose it.
Aides further said Cardin was “reluctant for the United States to provide the weapons given concerns about human rights violations in the Philippines.”
The US decision to halt its arms sale may disrupt the implementation of the PNP Capability Enhancement Program.
Lacson said that the PNP should start shopping in other territories for weapons and ammunition.
Lacson cited Taiwan has stopped buying police firearms from the US and is now procuring their standard 9mm pistols from Germany.
“There are other sources like Israel, Belgium, even Russia and China,” the senator said.
Lacson earlier said that the US decision to halt arms sale to the Philippines does not make the country lose anything except “one less gun store to choose from.”
The defense department said that obtaining defense equipment from China and Russia is currently in its planning stage.
Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto backed Lacson, noting that it was about time the government stop relying on foreign suppliers when it can manufacture its own.
“It is a wake-up call for us to stop totally relying on foreign suppliers. This is another kind of pivot we need. To tap our domestic industries for the equipment needs of our policemen and soldiers,” Recto said.
Recto described the country’s local firearms industry as “vibrant” even exporting its products for many decades now.
“What is Made in Marikina is as good as what is Made in America,” Recto said, referring to one local gun manufacturing complex in Marikina.
He further noted that aside from firearms, the country could even manufacture its own boats, vehicles and car plates.
The senator said that buying local would provide more jobs and give the manufacturing sector a much-needed boost.
“Buy local, create jobs. This should be the new mantra of the DND, DOTr (Departments of National Defense and Transportation) and other government agencies for their procurement programs,” Recto said.
He, however, cautioned that price should not be the sole consideration and that quality should not be sacrificed. (PNA / Azer N. Parrocha)