A GUNRUNNING syndicate based in Lipa, Batangas, believed to have been in operation for 22 years, has been taken down by the police and the weapons seized are similar to those rounded up from the local terror group that has wreaked havoc on Marawi City, according to police Director-General Ronald “Bato” M. dela Rosa.

In a press conference yesterday where the confiscated weapons were presented, Mr. Dela Rosa said, “Take note of the gun, the spikes, the seal. If you will remember, there are pictures here, high powered firearms seized in Marawi… Look at the color, the mark, the brand, same.”

At least 1,012 firearms, gun parts, and accessories were confiscated during the raid on July 1.

The alleged leader of the syndicate, Romel Litan delos Santos, who claimed to be a gunsmith selling assembled and refurbished 5.56 M16 rifles and short firearms was arrested along with several cohorts. Charges have been filed against them on July 3.

Chief Superintendent Roel B. Obusan, director of the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG), said there are leads that some of the firearms from the syndicate were transported to Marawi City for the local terrorist group Maute.

Mr. Obusan said, “We already filed a case against him (Mr. Delos Santos) on [gun] assembling and operating without license. However, based on the record book we confiscated, we already have leads how many were deployed to Marawi, how many were bought by politicians, policemen, and military. We have to identify where these firearms really went, and even if we want to connect this to rebellion, we still do not have evidence.” — Jil Danielle M. Caro