Militants fighting in Marawi using gov’t-owned guns, says Army exec
MARAWI CITY—Most weapons recovered from slain militants belonging to the Maute group and its allies or from areas they had vacated in this Lanao del Sur provincial capital bore marks which indicated that these came from the government, a military spokesperson said.
“It only meant that somebody from the government sold it to them,” said Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay, spokesperson for the Joint Task Force Marawi.
Petinglay, however, did not say how many of these recovered firearms had been confirmed to have come from the government armory.
The military has recovered at least 628 firearms—among these high-powered weapons like Barrett .50 caliber sniper’s rifles and Armalite, Garand and M14 rifles—since fighting began in late May when Islamic State-inspired militants took over sections of Marawi.
According to Petinglay, finding out who are responsible for the delivery of the firearms to the Maute group and its allies is not the military’s priority, noting that the investigation can be conducted after the fighting here ends.
“It’s easy to track where (the firearms) came from (based on the markings). But it’s not our priority right now. Once the fighting is over, we will commence our investigation,” she said.
Government-owned firearms falling into the hands of insurgents had been reported in the past.
In 2015, the Office of the Ombudsman approved the filing of charges against a group of police officials and private individuals over 1,004 missing high-powered AK47 rifles allegedly sold to communist rebels.
The Ombudsman said the police officials were involved in the issuance of firearm licenses for AK47 from August 2011 to April 2013. —JEOFFREY MAITEM
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