PNP eyes cases vs generals over missing AK-47s

Bea Cupin
PNP eyes cases vs generals over missing AK-47s

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) will be filing cases against at least 19 police personnel over a case of 1,004 missing AK-47 rifles, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) chief Director Benjamin Magalong said on Thursday, June 5.

During a press conference, Magalong said that while the investigation was still ongoing, the CIDG is also preparing to file a case against “around 7 retired and incumbent police generals” over the missing firearms.

CASES SOON. CIDG chief Director Benjamin Magalong says they will soon file cases against 19 PNP personnel over the missing AK-47s. Photo by Rappler

Inquiries made by the PNP’s Firearms and Explosives (FEO) office in 2013 revealed there are 1,004 unaccounted for AK-47s that were supposedly acquired by mining firms and security agencies.

The CIDG’s probe revealed the rifles ended up in the hands of members of the New People’s Army (NPA). Magalong said 5 of the rifles have since been recovered, following encounters between the Philippine Army and the NPA. Other firearms seized after the encounter could not be traced back to the missing AK-47s since they had already been tampered with.

Magalong named the following police generals and officers as respondents:

  • Director Gil Meneses, PNP Civil Security Group director who is currently on non-duty status 
  • Director Napoleon Estilles, Director for Plans and former FEO head
  • Chief Superintendent Raul Petrasanta, PNP Police Regional Office 3 chief and former FEO head 
  • Chief Superintendent Tom Rentoy, former PNP Supervisory Office for Security and Investigation Agencies chief 
  • Chief Superintendent Regino Catiis, acting executive officer of the PNP Directorate for Comptrollership and formerly chief of the FEO licensing division
  • Senior Superintendent Eduardo Acierto Jr, former chief of the FEO licensing division

The CIDG chief told reporters they may be charged  before the Ombudsman for violation of Presidential Decree 1866 and for graft under Republic Act 3019. Ten private individuals may also face charges for the missing rifles, he added.

Estilles is already facing plunder charges for his involvement in a “questionable” deal with a courier company Werfast alongside PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima. 

Although he did not give a specific timeframe for the filling of cases, he said the charges will be filed “soon.”

From the FEO to the NPA

Magalong’s announcement comes after months of investigating the missing firearms.

In the middle of the controversy is a certain Isidro Lozada, owner of security agency Caraga Security. Lozada, said Magalong, procured the rifles through authorized firearms dealer Twin Pines Incorporated. 

Lozada said the NPA threatened to kill him and his family in 2010 unless he supplied them with firearms.

File photo of AK-47s courtesy of the Philippine Army.

It was through his firm and several other entities that Lozada was able to get so many firearms for the NPA, said Magalong. The “other entities” – the JTC Mineral Mining Corporation, the Claver Mineral Mining Corporation, and another security agency – did not know about Lozada’s plans, Magalong added.

According to Magalong, the money used to purchase the firearms came from the NPA as well. Lozada simply served as their conduit.

The PNP officials were earlier asked to explain their involvement in the case.

“General Meneses explained Twin Pines is a very established firearms dealer, one they trust. They know it’s legitimate and safe. Twin Pines, on the other hand, said Lozada’s track record was spotless, so they saw nothing shady with his order… only to find out that the order was being delivered to the NPA,” Magalong said.

Twin Pines may also be held liable for the release of firearms. Lozada himself, whom Magalong described as “very cooperative” in the investigation, may also face charges.

Magalong said Lozada purchased the firearms in “trickles” from 2011 to shortly before the May 2013 elections.

Magalong described the transfer of firearms between Lozada and the NPA as “very casual.” The AK-47s were intended to be sold to authorized security agencies or for the security forces of private companies such as mining firms, he added. – Rappler.com

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.