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Gov't Arsenal can't supply PNP with rifles, director admits

The Government Arsenal, the agency responsible for the production of basic weaponry and ammunition for the military and police, will not be able to fill the gap if ever the US stops selling assault rifles to the Philippine National Police (PNP).

"No, I don't think so," said Jonathan Martir, director of Government Arsenal, in Marisol Abdurahman's exclusive report on "24 Oras" on Friday, when asked if they have the capability to supply the PNP with rifles.

"We had that capability, and it was gone," he added.

The report, citing Martir, said the agency could only manufacture 500 firearms every month, unlike in the 1970s when it could manufacture guns by the hundreds of thousands.

The report said with the monthly 500 guns, the Government Arsenal is hard-pressed even to supply the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) alone.

Martir said they could only manufacture small firearms, adding when it comes to long firearms like rifles, they could only repair, refurbish or upgrade.

"We stopped producing [rifles] in the 80s. Ngayon, upgrading na lang, refurbish at assembly ng rifle ang magagawa dito," he said.

The report said aside from small firearms, the Government Arsenal, which is located in Limay, Bataan, also manufactures spare parts like the low-profile gas block used in rifles, Novak Sight for 1911 pistol, and take-down pin for machine guns.

Martir, meanwhile, guaranteed that their products are of good quality.

Following the US State Department's decision to stop its planned sale of some 26,000 assault rifles to the PNP, the national police force said it is considering buying locally-manufactured assault rifles, or from Russia and China.

The US State Department reportedly halted the planned sale of assault rifles to the Philippines' national police after Senator Ben Cardin said he would oppose it, noting the alleged human rights violations being blamed on the Duterte administration's war on drugs. —KBK, GMA News