More police officials probed for missing rifles

Posted at 03/08/14 2:34 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The number of police officials being investigated for 900 missing high-powered firearms could rise to 10, said Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Director Chief Superintendent Benjamin Magalong.

Magalong said they are wrapping up the investigation and more names have cropped up.

Upon orders of President Aquino, the CIDG had placed under investigation Director Gil Meneses of the Philippine National Police Civil Security Group, Chief Superintendent Raul Petrasanta of Police Regional Office 3, Chief Superintendent Tom Rentoy of the Supervisory Office for Security and Investigation Agencies, Senior Superintendent Regie Catiis of the Directorate for Comptrollership, and Senior Superintendent Eduardo Acierto Jr., over the missing 900 AK-47 and M-16 Armalite rifles.

Magalong refused to name the other police officials whose names cropped up during their investigation but claimed they are all from the PNP Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO).

Meneses and Petrasanta are both former directors of the FEO while Catiis and Acierto are former chiefs of the office’s licensing division.

The CIDG chief said there is nothing personal and they are not singling out Petrasanta in their investigation of the missing firearms.

Petrasanta is being groomed to replace PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima.

He said Purisima’s strict orders to the CIDG are to “let the ax fall where it may.”

Magalong admitted he is close to Petrasanta and the other police officials being investigated are his former colleagues at the defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF), but he had no choice but to “do his job.”

“What is important is for us to establish who is liable so we could file criminal and administrative charges against them,” Magalong said.

Magalong belongs to Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class 1982 and Petrasanta to Class 1984.

Reports circulating in Camp Crame have it that Petrasanta is being groomed to replace Purisima, but the missing firearms case might derail his promotion.

Magalong said he and Petrasanta have spoken and their latest conversation dealt with the latter’s request for a one-week extension to submit counter-affidavit on the case.

Senior Superintendent Roberto Fajardo, head of the CIDG’s National Capital Region, said the case against the five police officials was triggered by the “Operation Katok” program of Purisima that started an inventory of firearms nationwide.

It was discovered during the accounting of firearms that several high-powered firearms were purchased using fictitious names and addresses, said Fajardo.

He said some of those involved in the anomalous transactions were security agencies and mining companies.

Magalong said the five police officials would remain on duty until they forward the result of their investigation and their recommendation to Purisima.

The firearms dealers they are investigating could also transact business with the FEO as long as their documents are “clean,” he added. – With Cecille Suerte Felipe