Duterte ally seeks Senate probe on alleged sale of AK-47 rifles to communist rebels

Duterte ally seeks Senate probe on alleged sale of AK-47 rifles to communist rebels
Stock image of a rifle.
Image by Daniel S. from Pixabay

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, at the instruction of President Rodrigo Duterte, has filed a resolution calling on the Senate to investigate the alleged sale of assualt rifles to communist rebels.

Duterte during his final State of the Nation Address on July 26 called on Congress, specifically naming his former national police chief Dela Rosa, to revisit the cases filed against members of the Philippine National Police in 2014 for allegedly selling AK-47 rifles to the New People's Army. 

"[K]indly dig into this because we have identified the person who imported the AK-47 into this country on the pretext of using it in security – providing security and guards in all business establishments and for those who can afford [security for] their home," the president told Congress. 

Duterte also referenced a former police colonel who he said went "under the radar" after being implicated in the drug protection racket a few years ago. “This policeman, I think, is still there. He was a colonel and he is still... Nothing happened. Many soldiers died because of the arms he brought into the Philippines." 

Investigations of the same controversy go back as far as 2014 and were revived in 2018 by then-Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II. 

But Dela Rosa in Senate Resolution No. 811, uploaded on Wednesday to the upper chamber's database, called on the appropriate committee to open its own probe into the matter "with the end in view of reviewing and strengthening our laws and policies on the issuance and granting of firearm licenses and permits." 

"Despite pendency of graft and corrupt criminal cases against alleged perpetrators, there is a need to determine the means and method exploited that enabled private individuals and corporations to sell firearms to [a] communist-terrorist group," he said. 

Named in the resolution is Isidoro Lozada, owner of Caraga Security Agency, who Dela Rosa said was able to import and register 1,004 AK-47 rifles with the PNP-Firearms and Explosives Office from 2011 to 2013 "despite irregularities in application." 

"It was found out that thru falsified and incomplete license applications, Lozada used Twin Pines, JTC Mineral Mining Corporation, Mineral Mining Corporation, and some security agencies to secure the purchase and registration of said firearms," he added. 

Dela Rosa said over 40 of the 1,004 rifles were recovered by members of the Philippine Army following a series of clashes with communist rebels in the Caraga and Western Mindanao regions. 

'Shoot them dead' 

"[I]f you see them walking around, kindly shoot them dead," Duterte said of the alleged perpetrators at his final SONA, repeating the same order he has given against drug suspects, quarantine violators, and communist rebels. 

"Anyway, you are already charged in the [International Criminal Court] together with me," the president told cops, making light of a looming probe into alleged crimes against humanity perpetrated during his "war on drugs." 

Dela Rosa headed the PNP from 2016 to 2018, acting as chief enforcer of Duterte's flagship campaign against illegal drugs. 

Government figures as of May 31 show that 6,147 people have died in official operations. Rights groups estimate that the actual number of casualties could be almost five times higher at 30,000. 

Bella Perez-Rubio with a report from The STAR 

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