MANILA, Philippines - Gun dealers who are found to be involved in gun smuggling and other forms of illegal trading will have their licenses suspended, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II warned over the weekend.
Roxas issued the warning following reports that an undetermined number of firearms are being smuggled or spirited out of the warehouse of the Philippine National Police-Firearms and Explosives Office (PNP-FEO) by gun traders even before they are officially registered.
"We have issued guidance to gun dealers to show cause on why their gun dealers' licenses to import and sell should not be suspended while an audit and investigation to trace the missing firearms is being conducted," the DILG chief said.
Initial reports said some private firearms under custody have been unofficially taken out of the PNP warehouse and sold to civilians without proper documentation.
Roxas said the audit indicated a certain gun dealer supposedly had 10 firearms stored in the PNP warehouse, but only six or eight were accounted for.
"Under the policy, every firearm should remain under the custody of the PNP-FEO before the gun is sold and release to a buyer, who complied with all the requirements set by the FEO," he said.
He also warned that police officials and personnel will be sanctioned and charged if they are found to have conspired with gun dealers to smuggle firearms out of the PNP warehouse.
Roxas said firearms taken out of the PNP warehouse without proper authority would be considered loose firearms, and those who possess them could face charges.
In January, President Aquino ordered an investigation over 900 missing high-powered firearms.
Five police officials were directed to explain the loss of the firearms, which reportedly ended up in the hands of the communist New People’s Army rebels in the Caraga region.