By Corina Oliquino i FilAm Star Correspondent
MANILA — A joint investigation will be launched by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) following the arrests of Maute Group gunrunners and partners Edgardo and Rosemarie Medel by special operations agents of the Valenzuela City Police Station during a night time buy-bust operation last December 17 along the North Luzon Expressway.
The operation also seized guns and bullets found inside wooden boxes labeled “Philippine Army”, “Government Property” and “AFP.”
In a text message to Rappler, Interior Sec. and former military chief Eduardo Año noted that the Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group will coordinate with the Intelligence Service of the AFP.
The suspects allegedly said they got the equipment through a retired soldier that the PNP refused to identify pending an investigation, from the AFP’s armory in Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija.
The Mendels are set to face charges for violating Republic Act 10591or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act.
In another report by Rappler, PNP Chief Director General Oscar Albayalde in a press briefing said the suspects admitted to getting the PHP 1.2 million worth of firearms from the military.
“Oo sa military, ‘di pa sure kung sa Army…Dapat maging concerned sila rito,” Albayalde said according to Rappler.
Albayalde noted that either the guns and bullets from the AFP’s armory were smuggled out in batches by a former serviceman, or from the suspects’ trusted connection to an “active officer.”
Moreover, Albayalde noted that the bullets and the boxes are traceable due to their serial numbers, adding they could be easily traced to soldiers or units that handled them.
He added that some of them are “green-tips” or penetrator bullets designed for elite units of the military, noting they have also received numerous reports about bullets being taken from the military and handed over to the Maute Group, responsible for the Marawi Siege in 2017.