Top cops indicted over missing AK47 firearms
Dismissed Chief Superintendent Raul Petrasanta and 14 others face graft indictment by the Ombudsman over the 1,004 missing high-powered AK47 firearms allegedly sold to the New People’s Army (NPA).
In a statement on Wednesdsay, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales approved the filing of charges against Petrasanta and other officials and private individuals for their alleged involvement in the issuance of firearm licenses for AK47 from Aug. 2011 to April 2013.
Others facing graft indictment are P/Dir. Gil Meneses of the Civil Security Group, P/Dir. Napoleon Estilles of the Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO), P/CSupt. Tomas Rentoy III, P/CSupt. Regino Catiis, P/SSupt. Eduardo Acierto, P/SSupt. Allan Parreño, P/Supt. Nelson Bautista, P/CInsp. Ricardo Zapata, Jr., P/CInsp Ricky Sumalde, SPO1 Eric Tan, SPO1 Randy De Sesto, as well as Non-uniformed Personnel (NUP) Nora Pirote and Sol Bargan, and Isidro Lozada of Caraga Security Agency (Caraga).
In a 39-page order, the Ombudsman ordered the filing before the Sandiganbayan against Petrasanta and Estilles of multiple counts of violations of Sections 3(e) and 3(j) of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The top cops stand accused for graft for approving firearms licenses applications of Caraga, Isla Security Agency (Isla), Claver Mineral Development Corporation and JTC Mineral Mining Corporation despite falsified applications and supporting documents.
The Ombudsman also said most of the firearms were immediately released even when some of the requests for their withdrawal from storage were not signed by the requester.
The Ombudsman noted the following irregularities:
– issuance of firearms licenses to Caraga despite an expired license to operate
– processing of Caraga’s applications without verifying the number of firearms already issued to it, which resulted in the issuance of licenses beyond the limit allowed by regulation
– recommendations for approval of the firearm licenses without proper verification and checking
– Meneses’ handwritten notations to expedite processing
– the absence of verification of the identity and capacity of Isla to purchase high-powered firearms.
Ombudsman Morales said “the public respondents failed to act in accordance with their respective duties in processing the questioned firearms license applications” and “that their acts/and or omissions demonstrate that they are guilty of gross inexcusable negligence and evident bad faith.”
Meanwhile, the Ombudsman cleared the following officials for lack of probable cause: P/CInsp. Rodrigo Benedicto Sarmiento, NUP Enrique Dela Cruz, and Twin Pines representatives Servando Topacio, Marie Ann Topacio, Alexandria Topacio, Hagen Alexander Topacio, Thelma Castillejos, Sherry Lyn Fetalino and Lourdes Logronio.
Under the anti-graft law, Section 3(j) prohibits public officials from approving or granting any license, permit, privilege or benefit in favor of any person not qualified for or not legally entitled to such license, permit, privilege or advantage.
Also, Section 3 (e) prohibits public officials from causing any undue injury to any party, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official duties.
According to the Ombudsman, the top cops approved the firearm licenses of the private security agencies and a mining firm despite incomplete and falsified applications to the PNP Firearms and Explosives Office.
The PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group then validated the information that the serial numbers of the licensed AK47s issued to the security agencies and mining company matched the firearms recovered from encounters between the military and NPA rebels in the Caraga and Western Mindanao regions.
Petrasanta and former PNP Chief Alan Purisima had been dismissed and barred from public service and forfeited of their retirement benefits due to a separate administrative offense over a P100 million shady deal with a private courier firm for firearms and licenses.
Petrasanta had been eyed to replace the beleaguered police chief Alan Purisima after the latter resigned amid backlash in his alleged role in the botched Jan. 25“Oplan Exodus” anti-terror raid in Mamasapano, Maguindanao that resulted in 67 deaths.
Petrasanta was former official of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO) and Central Luzon police director before he was dismissed from service. CDG
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