Aquino orders probe of arms transfer
MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III has ordered an investigation into the reported release of up to 900 high-powered firearms to various groups by a unit of the Philippine National Police.
In a recent informal dinner, the President did not name the unit being investigated in Camp Crame. He only said the reported release of the firearms to police auxiliaries and private security companies seemed “excessive” so he wanted it looked into.
“A PNP unit in Camp Crame is being investigated for the release of 900 firearms,” Aquino revealed during the dinner.
He said he received a report that the group released the high-powered firearms to police auxiliaries and security personnel for private companies like mining firms and security agencies.
The President said the firearms were assault rifles, “mostly AK-47s and M16s which apparently were not meant for the recipients.”
Aquino noted that the reported release of the firearms came after a successful crackdown on loose firearms dubbed “Oplan Katok.” The project aimed to reduce the number of loose firearms nationwide.
The selling of service firearms by cash-strapped policemen is one problem being investigated by the PNP leadership.
PNP spokesperson Chief Supt. Ruben Sindac, when contacted by the Inquirer about the ongoing probe, said he “will check the information.”
Last year, the PNP announced it would buy 50,000 assault rifles following the purchase and distribution to its personnel of close to 75,000 Glock 9 mm pistols worth P1.2 billion.
The purchase is part of the PNP’s P9-billion Capability Enhancement Program approved by Mr. Aquino to improve the capabilities of policemen.
PNP Director General Alan Purisima has issued several warnings to policemen not to sell their guns. Apart from dismissal from the service, a policeman caught selling his service firearm will face criminal charges for misusing government property.
Previous reports said that some policemen sold their guns to civilians even at a low price.