Blue Ribbon to investigate alleged sale of gov't firearms to private armies
A Senate investigation to determine the source of the high-powered firearms that were unearthed near the compound of the Ampatuan clan in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao will be conducted by Senator Richard J. Gordon.
"We would like to know where these firearms came from. The committee would look into allegations or speculations that government firearms are being sold or even given by the government to private armies," said Gordon, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.
The committee will invite as resource persons officials of the Commission on Audit (COA), Department of National Defense (DND), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP).
Gordon noted that during the raids of Ampatuan estates conducted by the military and police personnel, high-powered firearms including anti-tank recoilless rifles, mortars, machine guns, rifles and pistols, and thousands of rounds of ammunition that are enough to arm one battalion were discovered.
The subject high-powered firearms contain the markings of DND and PNP. Some of these weapons were allegedly used in the Maguindanao massacre that killed at least 57 people civilians, last November 23.
"We will ask the COA to audit the DND and PNP to make sure that weapons and firearms purchased by our military and police departments are all accounted for," he said.
The senator also stressed that the government must intensify its efforts in gathering all loose firearms, not only in Maguindanao but also throughout the country to prevent incidences of violence such as the Maguindanao massacre. The PNP pegs the number of unlicensed firearms at 1.11 million units. The ARMM alone has the second highest number of unregistered firearms with over 114,000 units.
"The police officials in Maguindanao should have been instantly relieved after the PNP learned about the massacre," Gordon said.
"Now that Martial Law has been declared in Maguindanao, the President should formally report to Congress about the declaration. In the meantime, the government should now take real steps to collect all illegal firearms in the area and bring back peace and order in the province," he added.