By Alexis Romero
MOSCOW — President Rodrigo Duterte is seeking a loan from Russia to buy firearms after the United States halted a rifle deal over his administration’s track record on human rights.
Duterte asked Russia President Vladimir Putin for a loan during their meeting in Kremlin on Tuesday hours before the Philippine leader flew to Manila to check the situation in Marawi, which was attacked by bandits with ties to the Islamic State.
“If you (Putin) can grant me a soft loan right now… The arms deal with America got canceled,” Duterte told Putin during the meeting.
Putin did not respond to the request for loan during his opening statement. It was not clear whether the Russian government approved the request as members of the media were asked to leave the venue of the meeting after the opening statements.
Last year, the US State Department stopped the sale of some 27,000 rifles to the Philippine National Police after Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin had raised concerns over the alleged human rights violations under the Duterte administration.
The US government under then President Barack Obama repeatedly criticized the spate of killings linked to Duterte’s clampdown on illegal drugs, a move that the Philippine president viewed as an interference with the country's internal affairs.
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