Army conducting probe into possible involvement of personnel in selling of firearms, ammo

Published December 18, 2018, 11:37 AM

by Francine Ciasico

By Francis Wakefield

The spokesman of the Philippine Army (PA) Tuesday said an investigation is now under way to determine who among Army personnel are in cahoots with a couple selling high-powered firearms and ammunition to interested groups.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (photo courtesy of the Office of the Secretary of National Defense)

In an interview, Col. Louie Villanueva said the Philippine Army is in full support of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in going after individuals engaged in this kind of illegal activity.

He added that Army personnel who will be found involved in criminal activities will be punished.

“The Philippine Army is now conducting an investigation regarding the incident. We are in full support to the PNP to determine who are behind or in cahoots to this nefarious activity,” Villanueva said.

“We do not tolerate anyone in our ranks who are bent on doing criminal acts. If ever proven that any member of the PA is involved we will not hesitate to impose the necessary legal or disciplinary action,” he added.

Villanueva said those who are found guilty will be administratively and criminally punished..

“They will be administratively charged and dismissed (from service). But merong criminal liability pa [There is also criminal liability) if it goes to civil court,” he said.

He added that they are still investigating if the firearms and ammunition confiscated are indeed the property of the PA.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday also said that an investigation will be conducted to determine how firearms and ammunition believed to be the property of the Philippine Army (PA) ended up in the hands of a couple.

The couple, who was arrested in Valenzuela City on Sunday night, reportedly sells the high-powered firearms and ammunition to interested groups.

“We’ll investigate how this ammo ended up in the wrong hands,” Lorenzana said.

In a press conference at Camp Crame, Quezon City, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) received a tip from a confidential informant that the couple — Edgardo Medel, 46, and his wife Rosemarie, 34, of Daisy Street, Land Ville Subdivision, BarangayPambuan, Gapan, Nueva Ecija — was supplying bulk of unlicensed firearms and ammunition for a hefty price to Maute terrorists, the Abu Sayyaf Group and rogue politicians.

Elements of NCRPO-Regional Special Operations Unit (RSOU) and Regional Intelligence Division (RID) apprehended the suspects after buying two assault rifles, a handgun, and 12, 893 rounds of live ammunition worth P1.2 million.

The transaction occurred around 6:30 p.m. Sunday at the service station along North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) while the couple was onboard an L300 van (REV 675).

Albayalde said the three minor children of the couple who were inside the vehicle during the buy bust were turned over to social workers following the arrest of their parents.

The firearms and ammunition presented by Albayalde were stored in two crates showing markings of the Philippine Army (PA).

Albayalde revealed the couple was in contact with a retired AFP soldier, who may have been the source of the high-powered firearms and ammunition which they sell to interested groups
The PNP chief withheld the identity of the retired soldier.

The suspects who are facing charges in relation to Republic Act 10591 were brought to the NCRPO headquarters.