That, in a nutshell, was Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson Jr. reaction to reports that the United States (US) State Department was pulling the plug on the planned sale of around 26,000 assault rifles to the Philippines.
“Since it’s a planned sale of assault rifles by the US to the Philippines, we do not stand to lose anything except one less gun store to choose from,” Lacson, a former Philippine National Police chief, said in a statement yesterday.
“There are tens of other countries that manufacture better and probably cheaper assault rifles than the US,” he added in an apparent dig at the longtime Philippine treaty ally.
Philippine and US relations have been somewhat icy as of late, with President Rodrigo Duterte’s frank sentiments against the west having much to do with it.
Lacson is a Duterte ally at the Senate.
“There is now more reason for our Department of National Defense (DND) to revive our self-reliance program so we can produce our own weapons and ammunition and other military hardware,” the majority senator added.
Earlier, Reuters said that Democrat Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland intended to block the sale of US assault rifles to the Philippine National Police (PNP).
This was apparently an offshoot of American government concerns over the alleged human rights violations under the Duterte administration, particularly its war on illegal drugs.
Lacson defended the administration from this assertion.
“I have yet to see an investigation with the conclusion that massive and state-sanctioned human rights violations were committed under the present regime’s drive against illegal drugs, so I would take US Sen. Cardin’s statement as his own opinion and nothing more,” he said.
It can be recalled that US “nosiness” in the local anti-drug campaign has been one of Duterte’s pet peeves and causes for his anti-US diatribes.
Depending on who you ask, between 2,000 and 3,000 drug suspects have been killed under Duterte’s four-month tenure.