Palace: Alleged gov’t purchase of guns seized by MILF from SAF 44 are baseless

By on February 22, 2015


Turn-Over Ceremony of the 16 surrendered SAF firearms on Thursday, February 19 at Camp Aguinaldo. (PNP-PIO)
Turn-Over Ceremony of the 16 surrendered SAF firearms on Thursday, February 19 at Camp Aguinaldo. (PNP-PIO)

MANILA — The government said it is dismayed by recent reports saying the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) purchased the firearms surrendered by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) this week.

The MILF returned 16 high-powered firearms confiscated by the group in the battlefield in Mamasapano in Maguindanao following a deadly clash in January 25.

“The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process is very disappointed at the allegations that have been made by Father Eliseo Mercado that the government purchased the weapons to make it appear that the MILF was returning it to the government,” Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview Saturday.

“We do not have any information on the basis of Father Mercado for saying those statements,” Valte said in the interview over dzRB Radyo Ng Bayan.

Father Mercado, an expert on Muslim affairs in Southeast Asia and southern Philippines, said he received information saying the weapons returned by the MILF were actually purchased by the government from the rebel group.

It was reported that few days after the bloody encounter, some groups in Maguindanao were allegedly selling the weapons captured from dead SAF commandos. The police said it is a crime to buy or own firearms from government arsenal.

The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, which was also involved in the encounter, said it captured 10 high-powered guns from the fallen SAF men. It said it has no intention of surrendering the weapons.

The MILF said it returned the firearms to show goodwill to the government as they craft a lasting solution to Mindanao’s security problems.