THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Ricardo Visaya has ordered the intelligence units of the Army, Navy and Air Force to continue exhaustive investigation of arms pilfering amid accusations that soldiers sell weapons and ammunition to the enemies of the State like the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).
Visaya made the directive even as the AFP inventory of firearms revealed that two of the high-powered weapons seized this week by the Philippine National Police (PNP) from a gunrunning syndicate were government-issued firearms.
Results of the accounting revealed that all the firearms recovered by the police were not issued to the AFP, except for the M-16A1 with serial number SN 123760 issued to the defunct Philippine Constabulary Support Command on July 8, 1982 and the M-203 grenade launcher issued to Service Support Command now Army Support Command on May 22, 1990.
The Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police (PC-INP), the predecessor of the PN, used to be under the command of the AFP.
Visaya also ordered the AFP’s three service branches to help the PNP determine where the ammunition confiscated were issued.
On Tuesday, the Philippine National Police chief, Director General Ronald de la Rosa, presented during a news conference P6-million worth of high-powered firearms intended for the Abu Sayyaf.
The weapons and ammunition were seized by agents of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) from Unding Kenneth Isa, Hja Risdimona Isa, Aljamer Akarab Mandih and Hurbin Alhi Sahibul during their arrest in Barangay West Crame, San Juan City (Metro Manila) on September 24.
The place is a stone’s throw away from Camp Crame, the home of the PNP.
Col. Edgard Arevalo, chief of the AFP Public Affairs Office, on Wednesday said the AFP “will leave no stone unturned in this investigation and ensure that these unscrupulous acts will be stopped –as it must immediately stop– and the perpetrators meted stiff punishments provided under the Articles of War particularly AW 85 as may be warranted by court martial.”
Article 85 is “Waste or Unlawful Disposition of Military Property Issued to Soldiers.”
Under the article, “Any soldier who sells or wrongfully disposes of or willfully or through neglect injures or losses any horse, arms, ammunition, accoutrements, equipment, clothing or other property issued for use in the military service, shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”
Arevalo earlier said some “misfits” in the AFP are possibly involved in the selling of weapons and ammunition to the enemies of the State.
He added that the AFP leadership is seriously looking into the issue as some soldiers had been implicated in illegal activities in the past and they are presently facing court martial. FERNAN MARASIGAN