EDITORIAL - Gun exporter
(The Philippine Star) - January 18, 2016 - 9:00am

Until last night, the Armed Forces of the Philippines was still coordinating with Indonesian authorities regarding a report that guns used by the bombers in last week’s terrorist attacks in Jakarta came from the Philippines.

If the report proves accurate, it won’t be surprising. The Philippines is awash with guns, from the homemade ones manufactured in not-so-clandestine shops in Danao, Cebu to high-powered imports including submachine guns and the Barrett M82 rifle featured in “American Sniper,” which was used by Islamic separatists to kill the 44 Special Action Force commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindano last year.

Rebels and bandits of various stripes like to have themselves photographed brandishing the most powerful guns in their arsenal. Organized crime rings are also equipped with guns that are often more sophisticated than those issued to law enforcers. Political kingpins maintain private armies with more firepower than the local police.

The country is said to have the highest homicide rate in this region and one of the highest overall crime rates. Philippine elections are notorious for deadly violence, and the current election season is turning out to be no exception. The proliferation of loose firearms is among the top reasons for this sorry state of affairs.

Now, if the Indonesians are correct, the Philippines has even become an exporter of illegal weapons. Terrorists in the two countries are known to have strong links and have launched joint attacks in the past. An Indonesian terrorist belonging to the regional terror cell Jemaah Islamiyah conducted training sessions in bomb-making at camps of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. A Malaysian wanted for the 2002 nightclub bombings that killed 202 people in Bali, Indonesia fled to Mindanao and was killed by the SAF in Mamasapano.

Philippine authorities must follow the weapons trail from Indonesia with urgency. The Jakarta suicide bombings have been claimed by the Islamic State, and if the guns carried by the terrorists came from the Philippines, it can indicate that IS has penetrated this country. No effort must be spared to trace the source of the guns. There could be more where they came from, and the Jakarta bombers have shown that their group has no compunctions about using weapons for maximum mayhem.

A MALAYSIAN AMERICAN SNIPER AN INDONESIAN BARRETT CEBU DANAO ISLAMIC STATE JEMAAH ISLAMIYAH MAMASAPANO MORO ISLAMIC LIBERATION FRONT SPECIAL ACTION FORCE
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