Sale of US rifles to PHL a ‘work in progress’: envoy

Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez on Thursday night said talks are still ongoing on Manila’s intent to buy some 74,000 M-16 assault rifles from the US to help address communist insurgency and fight terrorism in the country.

“(It’s a) work in progress,” Romualdez told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in a text message.

The statement comes as Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. reiterated on Thursday that the government is waiting for Washington to act on its request to provide the arms.

Locsin was responding to a report where Pentagon urged the Philippines to continue using America’s military equipment amid Russia’s offer to boost its defense capabilities.

On his official Twitter account, Locsin said the US should give the Philippines “good deals” with no conditions and it will pay.

“Just no conditions like spare the drug dealers to spare civil society’s feelings. Our soldiers prefer what they’re used to, American weaponry. We need 74,000 M-16s and 3 clips for each to finish off the Commies. Still waiting,” he said.

Asked what aspects in the talks the two nations are having a disconnect, Romualdez mentioned concerns raised previously by the US Congress.

“Only with the US Democratic Congress. (And) concern about de Lima and Ressa cases,” he said.

To recall, a resolution was earlier introduced into the US Congress, calling on the Philippine government to free detained Senator Leila de Lima and drop charges against online news site Rappler CEO Maria Ressa. Ressa is facing charges of cyber libel as well as violation of the Anti-Dummy Law.

The said resolution also criticized the administration’s anti-illegal-drug campaign. PNA.GOV.PH