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

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(L-R) Dela Rosa, Andanar, Lacson

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The country's top cop says in case the United States decides not to push through with a rifle sale deal with the Philippine National Police (PNP), police officials will find other ways and sources to equip law enforcers with the needed firearms.

PNP Chief Ronald dela Rosa was reacting on Tuesday about a Reuters report saying the State Department has decided not to push through with the planned sale of 26,000 assault rifles to the PNP — in relation to concerns over human rights violations. He added that he hadn't received any official notice about the supposed cancellation, but he had heard it from the news.

Dela Rosa said he really would have wanted to sale to be completed since the deal had already been awarded to a bidder.

"We really need those firearms for our public safety forces in the PNP," he said.

"Kung pwede ba makiusap tayo sa kanila. Of course I will ask clearance from the President kung papayag siya na makiusap ako through the help of DFA. Pero kung ayaw ng Presidente, wala tayong magagawa."

[Translation: If it's possible to plead with them through the DFA to continue with the sale — if the President will allow me to. But if the President says 'No,' then we can do nothing else but follow him.]

Dela Rosa said the PNP would explore all other options, saying China could also be a possible supplier.

Palace Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said he's sure the government could get the weapons elsewhere.

"I will have to talk to the PNP and find out their next move," Andanar said.

'Nothing to lose,' 'Russia is there'

Former PNP chief, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, said the country wouldn't stand to lose anything should the rifle deal fall through — except for one less gun store to choose from.

"There are tens of other countries that manufacture better, and probably cheaper, assault rifles than the U.S.," Lacson said.

In an interview with reporters in Davao City, President Rodrigo Duterte mentioned Russia as an alternative supplier of weapons.

"Russia says, 'We have everything you need,'" the President said during a visit to the gravesite of his parents.