Philippines: U.S. stops sale of 26,000 assault rifles amid Duterte’s drug war concerns

MANILA, Philippines - Amid America’s increasing concerns over the rising number of drug related extra judicial killings under the supremacy of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte - the ...

• Duterte disregards international law, extrajudical killings continue

• Human death toll rises above 3,800 drug related killings

• Duterte’s list of arms dealers grows as diplomatic relations with U.S. muddle

MANILA, Philippines - Amid America’s increasing concerns over the rising number of drug related extra judicial killings under the supremacy of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte - the rift, that U.S. did not acknowledge initially, has now come out in the open. 

According to reports, Ben Cardin, a member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is said to have vetoed the sale of 26,000 assault rifles to the Philippines. 

Cardin stated that the reason for his veto was the “concerns about human rights violations in the Philippines” by the police as part of Duterte’s violent war on drugs. 

The decision to cancel the arms deal was made after the number of drug related killings rose to a whopping 3,800 deaths in merely six months since Duterte assumed power.

During the Presidential election campaign, Duterte had promised to eliminate illegal drugs in six months. 

On winning the elections, he told the crowds, “If you know of any addicts, go ahead and kill them yourself, as getting their parents to do it would be too painful."

The President gave police and vigilantes the power to kill those involved in the drug trade.

Duterte even named politicians, police generals and judges who have been linked to the drug trade.

Duterte’s moves have even gained major support across Southeast Asia even though the United Nations and the United States have both voiced concerns regarding the modus operandi in the crucial war on drugs. 

Human rights activists and organisations have however condemned Duterte’s campaign. 

The UN special rapporteur on summary executions, Agnes Callamard had said that the campaign amounts to “incitement to violence and killing, a crime under international law.”

The UN report stated, “Allegations of drug-trafficking offenses should be judged in a court of law, not by gunmen on the streets.”

President of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon called the killings “extrajudicial” and urged Duterte to stop the campaign.

Acid-tongue Duterte, on his part said he doesn’t ‘give a s**t,’ calling Obama a ‘son of a w***e’ after he was questioned regarding the crime war and the spate of killings.

The Filipino president even slammed the UN for its censure, calling it an inutile body. 

He had even threatened to form a parallel body with China and Russia if UN continued to “interfere” in its “internal matters.”

More recently, Duterte said he would end all ties with the U.S., only to clarify that he didn’t mean it, after a huge uproar from both countries. 

Philippine Senator Lacson has claimed there has been “no state-sanctioned human rights violations committed under the present regime’s drive against illegal drugs,” adding that Senator Cardin’s statements are “his own opinion and nothing more.”

According to latest data released by the PNP, up to 4,715 people have been murdered since Duterte’s accession to power. 

Out of this number, 3,001 victims died via extrajudicial and vigilante killings and 1,714 via police manoeuvres. 

The Philippines’ national Chief of Police, Ronald dela Rosa, an avid supporter for Duterte’s war on drugs, has commented on the readily available alternative sources for the purchasing of weapons. 

He was quoted as saying, “We really wanted the U.S. rifles because these are reliable,” however, “if the sale will not push through, we will find another source, maybe from China.” 

Filipino Senator Panfilo Lacson too has commented on the halt of sales stating, “We do not stand to lose anything except one less gun store to choose from.”

Although initially angered by U.S.’s decision to refuse previous sales of weapons to Manila, Duterte claimed he would go to Russia instead, stating that they placed less complications on arms deals.

Duterte has reportedly previously said that China has assured the country to “just come over and sign and everything will be delivered.”

It remains to be seen how relations between the U.S. and the Philippines, historically a strong union, will unfold from here on.


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