OPAPP looking into ‘malicious’ claims government purchased SAF firearms from MILF

0
590
Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+0Email this to someone

THE Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said it is now looking into the claims that the government, through the agency, is purchasing the firearms of the slain 44 members of the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

OPAPP Executive Director Luisito Montalbo said the agency “cannot allow such untruths and violations of our rights to go unchallenged.”

Montalbo was reacting to allegations made by Cotabato City-based priest Eliseo Mercado about the supposed purchase of the government of the SAF firearms from the MILF. This deal, according to Mercado, is being done through OPAPP.

In an interview with ABS-CBN, Cotabato City-based priest Eliseo Mercado said he received information “from the ground” about the government, through OPAPP, purchasing firearms of the fallen members of the Special Action Force of the PNP from the MILF.

“The guns are all for sale immediately after taking them all from SAF,” Mercado said.

In a statement released Saturday, Montalbo expressed disappointment over Mercado’s allegation. He said OPAPP’s legal team is now looking into this.

“It is not just the name of the agency that is at stake, but hundreds of its employees who have no way to protect themselves from being maligned in this way,” Montalbo said.

He also expressed disappointment over Mercado’s claim.

“We don’t know where that is coming from. Certainly, there is no truth to that,” Montalbo said. “We find it very disappointing that Fr. Jun, whom we’ve known for a long time and who used to directly engage our Office as a peace advocate, would come out publicly‎ with claims that are unsubstantiated and unverified.”

He branded the allegation as “wrong and also unfair to our ground forces, the ceasefire committees and our international monitors who personally documented, facilitated and officially witnessed the retrieval of the weapons from the MILF.”

Earlier this month, PNP acting chief Deputy Director Gen. Leonardo Espina also accused the MILF of selling the firearms of the 44 slain members of SF. In a news conference, Espina challenged the MILF to return the weapons and other belongings of the killed police commandos.

Montalbo said his office’s legal unit has started looking into these allegations.

“Definitely, we cannot allow such untruths and violations of our rights to go unchallenged,” he said. “It is not just the name of the agency that is at stake, but hundreds of its employees who have no way to protect themselves from being maligned in this way.”

Montalbo said the retrieval of the weapons was made through the help of GPH – MILF Joint Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities, and the International Monitoring Team or IMT.

At least 16 high-powered firearms were presented to the government on February 18 by MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal in a program hosted by the 6th Infantry Division’s Camp Siongco in Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.

The presentation was witnessed by Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles, GPH peace panel member Senen Bacani, Joint Normalization Committee co-chair Muhammad Nassif, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gregorio Catapang Jr., ‎AFP Western Mindanao Command Chief Gen. Rustico Guerrero, Philippine Army 6th Infantry Battalion Commander Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan and PNP ARMM OIC Senior Superintendent Noel Armilla.

A day after, the firearms were turned over to the PNP. | JMT with PR, NewsDesk

 

Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+0Email this to someone

NO COMMENTS

Leave a Reply