19 PNP officials tagged in sale of guns to NPA

Posted at 06/05/2014 9:14 PM | Updated as of 06/06/2014 12:10 AM

MANILA - The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) is on the final stages of its probe on the 1,004 AK-47 assault rifles that went missing under the watch of the Philippine National Police-Firearms and Explosives Office (PNP-FEO).
 
Police Chief Supt. Benjamin Magalong, head of the CIDG, said they will file charges against 19 personnel of the PNP and around 10 civilians who they believe played a role in the irregular purchase and licensing of the AK-47s.
 
Of the 19 PNP personnel, 5 are high-ranking officials. They are:

- Chief Supt. Raul Petrasanta, former chief of the FEO and now director of PNP Region 3
- Chief Supt. Regino Catiis
- Chief Supt. Thomas Rentoy (ret), former head of the Supervisory Office for the Security and Investigative Agencies (SOSIA)
- Police Director Nap Estilles
- Police Director Gil Meneses

According to Magalong, all 1,004 AK-47s landed in the hands of the New People's Army (NPA) in a sale brokered by a certain Isidro Lozada.

He said Lozada picked up the AK47s from the Twine Pines firearms establishment in Butuan City, 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.

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 costs P52,000.
 
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 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, said Magalong. 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 yesterday in a committee hearing about the case.