Asia

Philippines' Rodrigo Duterte 'cancels' order of US rifles

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte at a news conference in Davao city, Philippines (27 October) Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Thousands have been killed in Mr Duterte's war on drugs

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has cancelled an order of some 26,000 police assault rifles from the US after rumours that Washington stopped the sale last week.

According to Reuters, a US senator had planned to block the arms purchase over concerns about human rights violations.

On Monday, Mr Duterte said he would look for a "cheaper source" to buy rifles, saying he "didn't need" the US.

Thousands have been killed as part of Mr Duterte's bloody crackdown on drugs.

Mr Duterte, who once promised to kill 100,000 criminals, has brushed off criticism, including by the UN, which said the killings could be crimes under international law, the US, and numerous human rights bodies.

In a televised speech on Monday, Mr Duterte said: "We will not insist on buying expensive arms from the United States. We don't need them.

"We will just have to look for another source that is cheaper and maybe as durable and as good as those made in the place we are ordering them."

The US state department did not commented on the sale of rifles to the Philippines, but spokesman John Kirby said Mr Duterte's rhetoric was "inexplicably at odds" with US-Philippine relations.

Last week, Mr Duterte accused his American counterparts of "rude" treatment and said he could alternatively source rifles from Russia or China.

"Look at these monkeys, the 26,000 firearms we wanted to buy, they don't want to sell. These American fools."

Philippine police chief Ronald dela Rosa reiterated the president's position saying that it was the US which had lost out on sale of the rifles.

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