07 June 2014

What Happened to the Missing AK-47?

Missing AK-47
Now it can be told. With the investigation on its final stages, the mystery of the missing 1,004 AK-47 assault rifles has unraveled. Finally we will find out what really happened.

According to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), the missing rifles under the care of the Philippine National Police-Firearms and Explosives Office (PNP-FEO) all ended in the hands of the state's enemy: the New People's Army (NPA).

In one of the ultimate display of treasonous behavior by aiding a rebellious group whose sole purpose is to overthrow the government, 19 personnel of the PNP and 10 civilians will be facing charges for their role in the irregular purchase, licensing and illegal sale / distribution of AK-47s. Police Chief Supt. Benjamin Magalong, head of the CIDG, will be filing the charges on the accused, five of whom are high-ranking officials.

The officers were identified by CIDG as:
  1. Chief Supt. Raul Petrasanta, former chief of the FEO and now director of PNP Region 3
  2. Chief Supt. Regino Catiis
  3. Chief Supt. Thomas Rentoy (ret), former head of the Supervisory Office for the Security and Investigative Agencies (SOSIA)
  4. Police Director Nap Estilles
  5. Police Director Gil Meneses
According to Magalong, the sale was brokered by a certain Isidro Lozada, who up the AK47s from the Twine Pines firearms establishment in Butuan City. He then delivered them to the NPA in trickles of 15, 20, or 30 AK-47s starting in 2011 and ending before the 2013 elections.

The problem of the missing AK-47s surfaced when the PNP made an accounting of all licensed firearms that passed through the FEO. It was discovered that the documents of these missing firearms held fictitious names and addresses.

While there is still no indication that the implicated police officers earned money from the sale of arms to the NPA, Magalong said it was their duty to have checked the papers of these rifles. One AK-47 rifle was estimated to costs PhP 52,000.

Magalong said it was Lozada himself who confirmed the sale of firearms to the NPA.

As part of the investigation, the CIDG requested the Philippine Army (PA) to turn over all AK-47s recovered during raids and encounters against the NPA. Of the 44 AK-47s that were turned over and tested, 5 of these turned up positive as part of the missing lot. The serial numbers of the others were defaced, making it impossible to check if they, too, belonged to the missing arms. The firearms were supposed to have gone to the securities of several mining companies before they went missing.

Lozada is not in custody, but he faces charges for violating Section 1 of PD 1866 or the disposition of firearms, and for graft. The CIDG is also looking into violations of Section 3 of RA 3019. Apart from Lozada, 9 other civilians are set to be charged. The CIDG is also checking whether Twin Pines may be liable.

The CIDG appeared before the House of Representatives in a committee hearing about the case.