Develop Philippine arms industry, group urges
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - February 18, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Party-list group Agham is advocating the development of the local firearms and ammunition industry.

“Our soldiers, policemen, law enforcers, and agencies needing guns will save a lot if they buy products produced by our own manufacturers,” former congressman Angelo Palmones, Agham president, told the Usaping Balita forum at the Serye restaurant in Quezon City yesterday.

He said the money that could be saved from buying locally made firearms and ammunition could be used to procure other equipment and gadgets for soldiers, policemen and law enforcers.

He said Filipino manufacturers can produce good quality guns and bullets and are in fact exporting their products.

Retired police director Leo Santiago, a member of Agham, said local gun makers like Armscor, Metro Arms and Shooters “have a following among civilians, who buy guns for self-defense, for sport or to collect.”

However, he lamented that the Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), National Bureau of Investigation and other agencies prefer to import firearms and ammunition, instead of buying them from local suppliers.

“Our Filipino gun makers can compete with their foreign counterparts in terms of quality. The problem with our agencies is that they have a bias for foreign products,” Santiago, who once headed the PNP Special Action Force (SAF), said.

He said Cebu-based Filipinos designed the major part of the Armalite M-4 rifle that an American manufacturer has been selling to the PNP, AFP and other agencies.

 He said several M-4 rifles bought by the PNP from this particular manufacturer were among the firearms lost by PNP-SAF troopers in the Jan. 25, 2015 Mamasapano incident.

Imports favored

Santiago said the government arsenal, which is supposed to manufacture firearms and ammunition for the AFP, seems bent on continuing with importation.

“The arsenal launched a defense eco-zone in Bataan last year. However, the plan is to invite foreign manufacturers to use the eco-zone as their hub to make guns for export to the Philippines and other countries,” he said.

He also claimed that the Bureau of Corrections, PNP and the Presidential Security Group bought Glock 9mm pistols from the same supplier at about P30,000, P20,000 and P19,000 apiece, respectively.

The former PNP official said he could not understand why the same pistol was bought from the same supplier at different prices.

Palmones said Agham is inquiring into the anomalous procurement.

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