An investigation has been launched into how more than a thousand police combat weapons ended up in the hands of communist guerrillas.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II has launched a criminal investigation following a directive from President Duterte. The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has been tasked to identify and charge any culprits.
In a statement issued today (Tuesday, January 9) Aguirre said he was “acting on the directive of President Duterte to investigate the reported missing 1,004 Philippine National Police firearms which were discovered to have been sold to the members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Mindanao”.
“With this, we are confident that those individuals who are responsible for this felonious act will be held accountable.”
In 2014, a PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) report said 1,004 AK-47s were missing and some had may have ended up in the hands of the NPA.
The police probe also said it was an authorised firearms dealer by the name of Isidro Lozada who had supposedly purchased the police combat weapons and sold these to the NPA, because he was placed under pressure.
Licenses for firearms are always coursed through the PNP-Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO). The report questioned why it somehow slipped through the scrutiny of the FEO.
Lozada, former FEO chief Raul Petrasanta, former FEO licensing division chief Eduardo Acierto Jr, Senior Superintendent Allan Parreno and Chief Inspector Ricky Sumalde were already charged for graft and were on trial at the 6th Division of the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan.
But they are on trial for the anomalous process of issuing and obtaining licences for 19 AK-47s. The charge sheets did not mention the NPA.
Justice Undersecretary Erickson Balmes said: “This is an offshoot of the earlier case, but we want to see if there are private individuals involved,”