Firm identified with PNP chief ends deal
MANILA, Philippines – Werfast is out of the picture.
A courier company tapped to deliver gun licenses directly to the addresses of applicants, the Werfast Documentation Agency Inc ended its deal with the Philippine National Police (PNP) following complaints and after a news story linked its owner to PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima.
In a phone interview with Rappler, Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO) Director Chief Superintendent Louie Oppus said it was the company that ended their deal.
"Yung sa sulat nila ay hindi na nila i-rerenew yung accredication, which is only until the end of the month," he said. (In a letter they said they would not be renewing their accreditation which expires at the end of March.)
Werfast's services officially ended at the start of the week on "Monday or Tuesday (March 17 or 18)," added Oppus. He said the FEO is already in the process of looking for other courier services to take over Werfast.
The company's exit comes a week after reports alleged the company was owned by a former superior of Purisima. According to the company's latest General Information Sheet filed before the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), retired Civilian Security Group (CSG) chief Ireno Bacolod is the president of the company.
Purisima was assigned chief directorial staff of CSG from 2007 to 2008, around the same time Bacolod headed the CSG.
Completing Werfast's board are: Juliana Pasia, Salud Bautista, Mario G. Juan, Lorna Perena, and Marilyn Chua. Juan, according to news reports, also has close ties to Purisima. Juan also has the most number of shares in the company, according to SEC documents.
Werfast is new to the courier business, having been only incorporated in August 2011. A visit to Werfast's website shows the company is involved solely in the delivery of gun ownership licenses from the FEO.
Under the PNP's new system that took effect early this year, licenses to possess firearms are delivered straight to the homes of applicants. Purisima, during a press conference, explained this was necessary to curb corruption in the FEO. (READ: Gun owners ask police: Why pick on us?)
"[Applicants] were giving fictitious addresses when they apply for gun license tapos merong yung sinasabi nila na binibili yung neuro-psychiatric test, kahit anong clearance diyan, doon mo binibili sa [FEO]," said Purisima (Some buy the results of the neuro-psychiatric test, as well as other clearances.)
But gun owners are saying that Werfast's services were bad or non-existent – deliveries would come in late, or would not come at all. Purisima said this was because a lot of applicants put in fake addresses or fake contact details, making it hard for Werfast to deliver licenses properly.
"We will cancel their licenses and conduct raids in their residents and we will ban them for having firearms," Purisima said, referring to gun owners with fake addresses.
Purisima said the PNP can always look at other companies to facilitate deliveries. "The important part here is that we know where the guns go, and those who receive actually owns the guns," he said.
Werfast's delivery charges were also allegedly higher than most courier services. The company charged P190 for deliveries within Metro Manila and P290 for provincial deliveries. The cost, the company says in its website, includes "3 or more attempts" at delivery, insurance for the license card and other documents, and call or contact attempts.
But. according to a report from the Inquirer, Werfast only served as a "middle man" between the PNP FEO and LBC, another courier service. In contrast, LBC charges P80-150 to deliver documents.
The PNP chief downplayed the higher cost of Werfast's deliveries, saying: "Negosyo yan di ba? Eto ay negosyo, kung ikaw ay nagnenegosyo, kailangan kumita ka. Am I right? Yung sinasabi niyong diskarte nila, I do not know because I am not Werfast. What's important to me is that firearms go to proper people." (It's a business. This is a business so you need to earn. If that's how they earn, I do not know because I am not Werfast.)
The changes in the issuance of licenses came after the PNP discovered "anomalies" in the FEO. The tightening of procedures would hopefully lessen the number of loose firearms in the country, said Purisima.
Purisima called the controversies surrounding gun licensing "birth pains" in introducing a new system. The PNP FEO's long-term plan, said Purisima, is to move processes online: license renewals through the Internet and payments made via credit card.
"Kaya lang, syempre, kapag nanganganak ka, mahirap manganak, di po ba?" he said. (Giving birth is difficult.)
Purisima said he wasn't privy to the process of getting Werfast as the PNP's courier service for the FEO. But he admitted the service wasn't bid out, since it would involve tapping into the funds of the PNP.
"I do not know dahil ang pangyayari na yan, naabutan ko lang (because it was already there when I came in). We will look into that," he said when asked if the deal only involved a Memorandum of Agreement.
Oppus, meanwhile, told Rappler he wasn't sure when Werfast began to service the FEO since the company was already there when he was appointed to the position in September 2013. – Rappler.com