Dela Rosa: Arms deal with U.S. still a go

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PNP chief Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa (File photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Philippine National Police's (PNP) assault rifle purchase with a U.S. supplier is still active – at least for now.

Based on the letter of the supplier to the PNP, the contract is still undergoing the normal process at the U.S. State Department.

For PNP chief Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa, in case the procurement deal is dropped: It's their loss not ours.

An earlier report by Reuters – citing U.S. Senate aides as sources – said the U.S. State Department halted the planned sale of some 26,000-27,000 M-4 assault rifles to the PNP. U.S. Senator Ben Cardin was reportedly opposing the sale due to concerns about allegations of human rights violations in the Philippines.

Related: Sources: U.S. stopped Philippines rifle sale that senator opposed

However, dela Rosa says he has not received any official notice from either the firearms supplier or the U.S. State Department about the deal's supposed cancellation. As far as he knows, the deal is pushing through.

The PNP says the procurement is worth P1.7 billion and they are expecting delivery of the M-4 assault rifles--early next year.

Each rifle costs P60,000.

Dela Rosa says the Philippines has yet to release money to pay for those rifles.

If the acquisition of M-4 rifles does not proceed, dela Rosa says they have to look for another supplier.

He says there are other local and international groups that can supply firearms to the PNP.

Related: PNP to find other suppliers after report of halted U.S. rifle sale

Dela Rosa says the additional 27,000 rifles will ramp up the PNP's capability to fight terror groups that he says are a "serious threat to global peace and security."

If the deal does get cancelled, Dela Rosa says it would be the first time that the U.S. government has done something like this to the PNP, since the Duterte administration announced it is adopting an independent foreign policy.

Dela Rosa also said U.S. officials should not listen to "biased" media organizations that only report the negative side of the war on drugs and not its positive impact on communities.