Military rifles sold to rebels still in Mindanao: AFP

Posted on June 17, 2014

TROOPS of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) stationed in Luzon and the Visayas have yet to seize AK-47 assault rifles believed to be part of the 1,004 firearms sold to the New People’s Army (NPA) that were processed by the Philippine National Police (PNP).

In a telephone interview with BusinessWorld, AFP Spokesperson Lt. Col Ramon P. Zagala said that, so far, all of the AK-47s they have confiscated came from NPA forces in eastern Mindanao.

“The rifles that were confiscated were from eastern Mindanao,” Mr. Zagala said.

AFP Southern Luzon Command Spokesperson Lloyd Cabacungan affirmed Mr. Zagala’s statement, saying that most of the firearms they have confiscated from NPA troops in Southern Luzon are M-16 rifles. “Mostly M-16s, we have not yet seized any AK-47s. We would know if an AK-47 rifle is being used against us because we can identify the sound it makes when they are fired,” Mr. Cabacungan told BusinessWorld in a telephone interview.

Mr. Cabacungan also confirmed several places in Southern Luzon were they have detected the activities of the rebel group.

“We have confirmed the presence of NPA in Quezon, Albay, Sorsogon... We don’t know their exact numbers in these places but what we know for sure is that their number is on the decline,” Mr. Cabacungan added in the vernacular.

So far, a total of 45 AK-47 assault rifles were confiscated by the AFP from NPA troops in eastern Mindanao since 2013.

In a previous statement, Captain Alberto C. Caber, AFP Eastern Mindanao Command spokesperson, noted that most of the rifles have defaced serial numbers, while five were confirmed to have been processed by the PNP.

Mr. Caber also said the rebel group will have a hard time transporting the firearms from Mindanao to other areas in the country due to the security measures they have taken in the area.

“We have joint checkpoints with the PNP in strategic locations in land areas. In the seas, we have the Philippine Navy, coast guard. They will have a hard time, transporting those firearms,” Mr. Caber cited.

Meanwhile, the second-stage bidding for the P877-million Coast Watch System Acquisition Project -- Lot 1 of the Department of National Defense (DND) has been set next week, June 24.

Engineer Sam A. Castro, secretariat of the Special Bids and Awards Committee II of the DND, said the final bidding stage was only scheduled this year due to some preparations that were needed to secure the project. “It was delayed because we conducted site inspections in locations across the country,” Mr. Castro told BusinessWorld in a telephone interview.

The first stage bidding took place last year. Mr. Castro said out of the nine foreign firms which expressed interest in the project, only four made it to the last stage of the bidding process.

The financial and final technical bids of the four qualified bidders will be opened during the second-stage bidding which will be held in Camp Emilio Aguinaldo next week.

The DND’s Coast Watch System Acquisition Project is part of the revised AFP Modernization Program, which has a budget of P85.3 billion for the years 2013 to 2017. -- Alden M. Monzon