What’s going on here?
Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director Oscar Albayalde alleged yesterday that the firearms and bullets seized from two suspected gunrunners supplying arms to terrorist groups came from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
The Philippine Daily Inquirer identified the alleged gunrunners as husband and wife Edgardo and Rosemarie Medel, residents of the town of Gapan in Nueva Ecija.
According to Albayalde, the PNP received information from a confidential source who said the couple supplied arms to the Abu Sayaff, members of the Maute group, and even politicians, Manila Bulletin reported.
The PNP’s information office told Coconuts Manila that the couple was arrested at the parking lot of a Caltex gas station in Valenzuela City on Dec. 16 at around 6:30pm.
The Manila Bulletin added that the couple was also with their children when the arrest occurred. Their kids were turned over to social workers following their parents’ arrest.
Allegedly confiscated from the couple were two assault rifles, a handgun and 12,893 rounds of live ammunition for M-60 light machine guns and M-16 assault rifles. Albayalde said they were all unregistered, reported the Inquirer.
Journalists who attended Albayalde’s press conference yesterday saw the bullets and weapons which were allegedly confiscated from the couple.
Apart from those, there were wooden boxes labeled with the words “AFP,” “GOVERNMENT PROPERTY,” and “PHILIPPINE ARMY,” reported Rappler. The confiscated items were allegedly hidden in these marked boxes.
Said Albayalde in a mix of Filipino and English: “Yes, [they’re from] the military, not sure if it’s from the Army. They should be concerned about this.”
Albayalde said that the couple was in contact with a retired member of the AFP, who may have served as their source of the ammunition. However, Albayalde did not disclose the name of the retired officer.
It is also unclear if the couple is part of a bigger organization, as the PNP’s informant allegedly named just the two of them.
Albayalde said the PNP will cooperate with the military in investigating the case.
“Part of the continuing investigation will be to determine the source of these weapons and ammunition, and to possibly identify other persons involved,” he said.