Duterte cancels purchase of guns from US; urges “moratorium (on) violence”

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 07 November) –  President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the cancellation of the purchase of 26,000 assault rifles from the United States, claiming he will look for “another source that is cheaper” but later saying “let us just have a moratorium (on) violence” and use the money for guns for some other endeavors.

’Yan lang ang hingiin ko sa inyo. Kasi magbili ako (ng baril) gagamitin lang rin ‘yan para magpatayan tayo dito” (That is my appeal to you. Because the guns we buy will just be used to kill each other), he said, adding buying those guns means buying bullets para patayin mo lang kapwa mo Filipino, or kapwa mo Moro, o kapwa mo Christian (to kill your fellow Filipino, or fellow Moro, or fellow Chirstian.”

 “I will just cancel it, contribute it to the success of the reinvigorated Bangsomoro Transition (Commission),” said the President at the singing of the Executive Order on the BTC on Monday.

The BTC, whose membership has been increased from 15 to 21, is tasked to draft the law that would pave the way for the creation of a new autonomous political entity called Bangsamoro, to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as agreed upon in the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. 

Duterte’s order came a week after the US State Department was reported to have stopped the sale to the PNP when US Senator Ben Cardin said eh would oppose the sale due to concerns over human rights violations in the Philippines’ war against illegal drugs.

“I am ordering its cancellation.. we will just have to look for another source that is cheaper, maybe as durable and as good as those made from the place we are ordering them,” Duterte said.

“We will not insist on buying expensive arms from… We can always get them somewhere else,” he said. The assault rifles, intended for the Philippine Natinal Police (PNP) are supposed to arrive, according to Duterte, in July 2017.

“I am ordering the police to cancel (the purchase),” he said, before calling on a “moratorium (on) violence” because the guns will just kill fellow Filipinos.

On Nov. 2, PNP Director-General Ronald dela Rosa said the cancellation of the purchase  of firearms will delay the procurement “because the bidding process will start all over again.”

But he said they can find other arms suppliers. “It’s not the loss of the buyer but the loss of the supplier. Benta pa rin ‘yan para sa kanila” (that’s still a sale for them), he said. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)