THE Philippines is looking to Russia to supply the 26,000 rifles that it needs following the scrapping of a deal to buy them from the United States, an official said Tuesday.
Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said that became a possibility after President Rodrigo Duterte canceled the deal to purchase 26,000 US rifles for the national police.
“The President reportedly canceled the M4 deal with the United States, so we are now looking for alternative sources and Russia is one of them,” Jose said.
He cited the recent meeting of Philippine Ambassador to Russia Carlos Sorreta and Russian businessman Arkadiy Privalov of Concern Kalashnikov, the largest Russian manufacturing company that produces assault rifles.
He said that the Philippines was now “window shopping” for weapons from different countries.
Last week, the US government decided to cancel its planned sale of 26,000 assault rifles to the Philippine National Police due to its increasing concern over human rights violations in the country.
US Senator Ben Cardin said he planned to oppose the deal following the human rights violations accompanying Duterte’s bloody war against alleged drug users and dealers.
But Duterte slammed the unconfirmed report and instead canceled the deal with the US, saying he could go to Russia or China for the weapons.
Following Duterte’s announcement, Sorreta took the opportunity to find out what arms could be bought from Russia.
“I wanted information on whether Russian sales would include not only after-sales service but also if Russia would support the Philippines’ own efforts to develop its small arms industry, as they have done in other countries that bought their weapons,” Sorreta said.
He said he also inquired if Russian arms sales required the participation of a middle man as that could inflate prices and be a possible source of corruption.
“There are also certain advantages to government-to-government sales under our procurement law, particularly if there is an urgent need to source supplies,” Sorreta said.