HIGH-POWERED firearms and ammunition were seized from a defeated 2016 independent vice-gubernatorial candidate in Sulu who was arrested by agents of the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group on charges of supplying weapons to the Abu Sayyaf Group and Mindanao warlords.
PNP chief, Director General Ronald ‘Bato’ M. de la Rosa announced yesterday that Unding Kenneth Isa and three others were arrested in a raid at no. 8, Unit 4, 3rd West Crame in Barangay West Crame, San Juan City by members of the PNP-CIDG headed by Chief Superintendent Roel G. Obusan 10 a.m. Saturday.
Obusan said that a record check showed that Isa is a registered owner of four licensed firearms. He has a small garments business and sends three kids to private schools.
Seized during the raid were an estimated P6 million worth of weapons including five M-14s equipped with M-203 grenade launcher, two M-14 rifles, one AR15 automatic rifle, one caliber .45 pistol with two magazines containing 12 bullets, 6,270 rounds of 5.56 ammunition, 2,000 rounds of 7.62 ammunition, 795 rounds of linked 7.62 ammunition and three M203 rounds.
The PNP chief said he has ordered Obusan to investigate the source of the weapons and ammunition seized from the suspects. Many of the ammunition were traced to the government arsenal triggering an investigation into the identities of the persons who supplied the bullets to the suspects.
The PNP chief said that each of the confiscated weapons fetches a price of P350,000 to P400,000 in the Mindanao market.
Gen. de la Rosa said Isa was the subject of the search warrant for violation of Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulations Act of 2013 issued by Pasig City Judge Danilo Cruz.
Officers from the CIDG Anti-Transnational Crime Unit led by Chief Inspector Roque Merdegia raided the suspect’s residence and arrested him along with his visitors Hja Risdimona Isa, Aljamer Akarab Mandih and Hurbi Alhi Sahibul. The PNP-CIDG however said that the other three suspects have no direct participation in Isa’s weapons’ trafficking activities.
The PNP chief said that Isa and one alias ‘Wahid,’ both natives of Indanan, Sulu have been reported as leaders of the gunrunning group which supplies and delivers high-powered guns to the Abu Sayyaf Group, warlords and even politicians from Manila to Jolo, Sulu.
Gen. de la Rosa said the PNP had received information that Isa’s group and some Abu Sayyaf Group members have been in Manila since last August to buy guns, ammunition and explosives components upon orders of a still unidentified Abu Sayyaf commander.
“These contrabands will be used in the alleged strengthening of the ASG’s armaments in their fight against government forces in Sulu and Basilan as well as the intensification of their kidnapping and bombing operations,” the PNP chief said while adding that Isa was monitored to have made previous gun deliveries in Mindanao.
“We suspect that they have a contact in the government arsenal, either some end-users or the stockman of the arsenal,’ he said.
Obusan said they are still investigating the persons who have asked Isa and his group to purchase weapons for them. “What we have found out so far is that the suspect sold grenade launchers and ammunition to the Abu Sayyaf before the May polls,” he said.
DE LA ROSA SCOLDS ‘FRIEND OF DUTERTE’
An angry De la Rosa scolded Isa when he claimed he is a “friend of the Duterte government.” After the suspect was presented to the press, he approached the PNP chief and said he is a “friend of the Duterte administration and is even helping it go after the Abu Sayyaf.”
‘’You’re in handcuffs because you’re selling weapons to the Abu Sayyaf and still you have the gall to say that you are a friend of the Duterte government,” the PNP chief told the suspect. He earlier asked the suspect not to smile in front of cameras.
Obusan said the suspect is refusing to cooperate with their investigation for fear of his life and that of his family. “He doesn’t want to spill the beans literally,” he said. “But we do it technically, not brutally and I think that with the passion and dedication of my men to do their job, we would identify all the links of the suspects,” the PNP-CIDG director said.
Gen. de la Rosa said that if he could have his way, he wants the government contacts of the suspects executed by a firing squad. “Just imagine the trouble that would happen if these weapons and ammunition were delivered to Sulu for use of the Abu Sayyaf and warlords. They will for sure destroy lots of lives if delivered,” he said.
‘’How I wish that the persons who are giving arms to the enemies be executed by a firing squad,” he said.
AFP scalawags in arms scam
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) yesterday said there is a possibility that some misfits in the organization might be involved in the selling of ammunition and guns to the Abu Sayyaf Group(ASG).
AFP-Public Affairs Office (PAO) Chief Lt. Colonel Edgard Arevalo said the AFP received reports that there are some soldiers involved in the illegal activity.
“We would like to say possible, there is a possibility that there are some misfits in the Armed Forces of the Philippines who might be involved sa ganitong unscrupulous acts,” Arevalo said.
Arevalo said two soldiers were arrested last week for alleged involvement in the illegal arms trade. He identified them as TSgt Santiago Caasi from Mechanized Infantry Division in Basilan and SSgt Jeffrey Odonio, a non-commissioned officer and candidate soldier of the 10th Infantry Division in Mawab Compostela, Valley.
Caasi is now facing investigation and general court martial.
The PAO chief said the AFP is not taking the issue lightly and will do its best to stop the illegal activity.
Zaida delos Reyes-Palanca