PNP generals face raps over AK-47s in NPA hands
MANILA, Philippines – Several retired and incumbent police generals are facing criminal and administrative complaints for a case of 1,004 missing AK-47s.
An earlier investigation by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) revealed the firearms had ended up in the hands of the communist New People's Army (NPA).
In a statement on Thursday, November 13, the Office of the Ombudsman said the following Philippine National Police (PNP) generals are named in complaints of falsification, graft and corruption, and violation of the Private Security Agency Law:
- Director Gil Meneses, PNP Civil Security Group director who is currently on non-duty status
- Director Napoleon Estilles, Director for Plans and former head of the Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO)
- 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
The other respondents are:
- Senior Superintendent Eduardo Acierto Jr, former chief of the FEO licensing division
- Senior Superintendent Allan Parreno
- Superintendent Nelson Bautista
- Chief Inspector Ricky Sumalde
- Chief Inspector Ricardo Zapata Jr
- Chief Inspector Rodrigo Benedicto Sarmiento
- Senior Police Office 1 Eric Tan
- SPO1 Randy de Sesto
- 3 non-unformed personnel
- Isidro Lozada of Caraga Security Agency
- Representatives of gun supplier, Twin Pines Incorporated
The PNP personnel are either with or were once assigned to the PNP's Firearms and Explosives Office, which handles the processing of gun licenses. On top of criminal charges, the PNP officials face administrative charges for grave misconduct and serious dishonesty, according to the Ombudsman.
The complaint against them also asked that they be suspended pending the investigation, which will be led by a 5-lawyer special panel created by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales. The panel will conduct the preliminary investigation and administrative adjudication of the cases, the Ombudsman said.
The PNP CIDG earlier announced in June that it was eyeing the filing of charges against at least 19 PNP personnel over the case. In 2013, the PNP FEO discovered some 1,004 AK-47s supposedly bought by mining firms and security agencies could not be accounted for.
But the PNP later took back Magalong's announcement. The charges now are a result of the motu proprio case build-up by the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices based on a news report. This means the Ombudsman went ahead with its case build-up even without a complainant.
From the PNP to the NPA
The CIDG's investigation revealed the firearms had ended up in the hands of the New People's Army (NPA) through Lozada, who bought the riffles through authorized firearms dealer Twin Pines. Lozada claimed the NPA threatened to kill him and his family in 2010 unless he supplied them with the firearms.
Lozada used other entities – the JTC Mineral Mining Corporation, the Claver Mineral Mining Corporation, and another security agency – to secure the firearms. The CIDG chief told reporters in a press conference in June 2014 that the other companies did not know of Magalong's plans.
The CIDG's probe would also reveal that Caraga Security Agency's license to operate had expired by September 2012. Magalong said then that Lozada purchased the firearms in “trickles” from 2011 to shortly before the May 2013 elections.
FEO officials could be in trouble for processing and approving Lozada's application "despite irregularities," the Ombudsman said.
Some of the riffles have been recovered by authorities after encounters between military, police, and the NPA. Most of the firearms, however, could no longer be identified since they had been tampered with. – Bea Cupin/Rappler.com