MANILA— Military police arrested 10 members of the purported “Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty” while attempting to enter the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City Monday.
The incident took place 5:45 a.m., AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said in press briefing.
“At around 5:45 a.m. of 2 October 2017, 10 members of a certain ‘Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty’ on board a van were held at Gate 6 of Camp Aguinaldo,” he added.
Arevalo said the group was held for questioning for carrying firearms with no appropriate documents, including exemptions from the election gun ban.
The group’s leader was a certain Daniel Pagalan, allegedly the group’s ‘Chief Intelligence’ while his companions were identified as Alvin Simbahon, Rolando Mahusay alias “Kumander Melody”, Dioscoro Danis, James Iwayan, Butch B. Galimba, Rico Giducos, Ramil B. Peralta, Rundy Paderes and Pascula Dizon alias “Kumander Haslim”.
All of them are reportedly residents of Koronadal City, South Cotabato.
“They were identified based on identifications they presented bearing the letterhead ‘Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty’. The fact that they wore (the same) black T-shirts and design drew the suspicion of the guards on duty.
When asked, the men admitted to have firearms in their possession,” the AFP official added.
When questioned further, the group claimed that they were on their way to present their letter request for accreditation to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana through a staff.
“But upon checking, it turned out that they have no prior appointment with the office that they intended to visit. Hence, the persons were held for questioning,” Arevalo added.
Seized from the group’s possession were two homemade .45 caliber pistols and three 9mm handguns, three magazines with 47 rounds of 9mm bullets and 26 .45 caliber live ammunition and identification cards of still unknown authority and source.
Arevalo said the suspects were immediately turned over to the nearby Station 8 of the Quezon City Police for investigation.
“We commend the guards on duty under the leadership of Col. John Dominic Pulido, the Camp Commander, for their vigilance and appropriate action taken as required under the circumstances. These sentinels will be cited for the faithful performance of their duty and in manifesting a high degree of alertness and level of camp security,” he added.