by Ryan Maass
Manila (UPI) Nov 14, 2016
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will move forward with purchasing over 27,000 assault rifles from the United States, reversing his earlier position.
The rifles will be used by the Philippine National Police. Duterte's reversal comes just weeks after the president said he would consider buying the weapons from Russia if the United States blocked the sale. The controversial head of state gave his approval following a meeting with PNP Director General Ronald dela Rosa, who maintained the deal would not meet any opposition.
"We reported to him that the processing of the documents is going smoothly, according to the Sig Sauer. They saw no one is blocking it," dela Rosa told a news conference. "So when I explained that to him, he said 'Okay, you continue'."
Philippine authorities said they began doubting whether the sale would go through after remarks made by U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, a Democrat from Maryland. The legislator expressed opposition to the sale, saying Duterte's human rights violations during his administration's anti-drug campaign should disqualify the deal.
Philippine officials estimate roughly 4,000 people have been killed in the effort, although human rights organizations such as Amnesty International say this number is likely higher.
The United States and the Philippines signed the $34.6 million contract to provide SIG Sauer M4 assault rifles for the PNP in July 2016. The weapons cost approximately $1,300 each, and are capable of firing semiautomatic or three-round burst to support close-quarter combat.
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