MANILA – Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa has bared that China would give the Philippines as a gift brand-new assault rifles.
This even while the Philippines has yet to sign any weapons deal with the Chinese, with whom the Duterte administration is pursuing warmer ties even as it remained the country's biggest rival to the resource-rich South China Sea.
“Hindi na tayo bibili…Baka bibigyan tayo ng 23,000 na M4. Bigay, so walang bayad,” he said on Wednesday.
Dela Rosa's news came shortly after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana revealed government's plan to procure defense equipment from China.
Dela Rosa said the country required additional rifles as militants such as the New People’s Army (NPA) would sometimes overpower police in far-flung areas as they lacked weapons.
There is no date set for the arrival of the rifles as the two governments are still taking care of the paperwork for the deal, the PNP chief said.
However, he clarified that the country’s purchase of weapons from the US might still push through.
“Kung tuloy iyon, OK pa rin. We need more. We are 175,000 (police), tapos ibibigay 23,000 so malaki pa rin ang kakulangan,” he said.
Earlier this month, United States Senators Ben Cardin and Marco Rubio filed a bill seeking to restrict arms exports to the Philippine police, amid concerns over President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody drug war.
Last year, Cardin opposed America’s planned sale of about 26,000 assault rifles to the PNP.
The US State Department remained mum on the cancellation of the deal, and cited Federal regulations preventing them from commenting on the status of export license approvals of commercial defense sales. --with reports from Jeff Canoy, ABS-CBN News