Manila: Criminal complaints were filed against several individuals, including five senior police officials, in connection with 1,004 missing Kalashnikov assault rifles that turned up in the hands of communist insurgents.
According to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales 19 counts of falsification, 23 counts of violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, 23 counts of violation of private security agency law, as well as grave misconduct and serious dishonesty charges were filed against officials of the Philippine National Police Firearms and Explosives Office (PNP-FEO) including its two top officials, police directors Gil Meneses and Napoleon Estilles as well as 11 other police officers and three private individuals.
Some of the officers have retired from service, while others have opted to go on non-duty status.
The case stemmed from a complaint filed by the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) that accused PNP-FEO officials of issuing firearm licences to four private security agencies and a mining company although documents submitted by the firms were falsified and incomplete.
“Based on the PNP-FEO database, 1,004 licensed firearms were released through the submission of incomplete and/or falsified applications submitted by Isidro Lozada, owner of Caraga Security Agency, who purchased the firearms from Twin Pines, Inc. which, in turn, facilitated and submitted the falsified and/or incomplete license applications of Lozada to the PNP-FEO,” the Ombudsman’s office said.
It also said that despite irregularities in the applications, PNP-FEO officials and personnel processed the licences for the firearms.
Twin Pines is a licensed importer of firearms, gun parts, ammunitions and shooting accessories.
The Kalashnikovs were earlier reported to have been missing from the FEO custody at the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame.
Aside from this, authorities also found out that Lozada’s “Caraga Security Agency’s license to operate had expired on 30 September 2012.”
Earlier, the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group said they have reason to believe that the firearms issued under the name of Caraga Security and three other agencies had fallen in the hands of the communist New Peoples’ Army (NPA) or were deliberately given to the rebels.
“The CIDG was also able to validate information that firearms matching the serial numbers of the licensed AK47s issued to the security agencies and mining company were recovered from encounters between the military and the NPAs in the Caraga and Western Mindanao regions,” it said.
Communist rebels typically take weapons from their encounters with the military, police or paramilitary groups.
Aside from Meneses and Estilles, other officials charged in connection with the missing Kalashnikovs were chief superintendents Raul Petrasanta, Tomas Rentoy II, Region Catiis, Eduardo Acierto, Allan Parreno, Nelson Bautista; chief inspectors Ricky Sumalde, Ricardo Zapata junior, Rodrigo Benedicto Sarmiento; senior police officers Eric Tan, Randy De Sesto and three non-uniformed personnel.