Congress Probes Alleged Questionable Transactions in Firearms of PNP High Ranking Officials
The House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability today conducted an investigative hearing in response to House resolution No. 970 filed by Congressman Rodolfo Farinas on "alleged Anomalous Transactions Involving High ranking Officials of the Philippine Natrional Police." The Resolution called for a look into the alleged 900 high-powered missing rifles which were later found in the hands of insurgents, and the anmalous Werfast courier service that was engaged by the PNP to deliver apporved firearms licenses to their holders. The hearing however, went beyond these issues and likewise discussed the difficult and egregious firearms licensing polices, the centralization of gun licensing in Camp Crame, Quezon City, the difficulty in obtaining Permits to Carry, the administrative fund raising contained in the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of RA 10591, as well as all other questionable provisions of the IRR.
The congressmen and congresswoman, one by one took turns in hurling angry complaint after complaint against the PNP officials led by Gen. Mel Mabilin (Chief, CSG) and Gen Moro Lazo (Chief, FEO), who were representing the agency. The absence of the Chief PNP, Gen. Alan Purisima was likewise questioned by the committee early in the hearing and it ordered that a new subpoena be issued thru DILG Secretary Mar Roxas that Gen. Purisima be required to personally appear at the next hearing of the Committee under pain of contempt. In addition, the Congressmen grilled the PNP officials and required that documents regarding the PTCFORs and Licenses be brought at the next hearing.
The main line of angry questioning by the Congressmen was why the licensing and PTCFOR issuance have to be processed and approved in Camp Crame, Quezon City? The Committee then suggested that oversight should be made for amendment of the law RA 10591, to de-centralize all firearms licensing and approvals in the regional offices so that services would be "closer to the people." The solution was not to hold caravans, but to re-open all Regional Satellite offices to serve the licensed gun owners. Every single Congressman stated that all their constituents were complaining about the current system of firearms licensing, including some complaints by Congressman Rodolfo Farinas and Oscar Rodriguez, that they were even erroneously sent "reminders" via the PNP's "Oplan Katok, regarding expired firearms that they did not own, or belonged to dead people. Angry questioning was likewise directed at the failure and/or refusal of the PNP to comply with the TRO issued by the Supreme Court in PROGUN vs. PNP.
There were also numerous complaints regarding the current system of firearms licensing which required ballistic testing, neuro and psych testing, and gun safety and clearances at Camp Crame, Quezon City. Given the 1.7. million licensed gun owners (PNP claimed only 450,000), the Congressmen correctly assessed that these facilites of the PNP would be able to handle only about 6 applciants per day on a 24 hour shift (@3hrs testing per applicant), which is clearly beyond the capacity of the PNP services to handle.
Another hearing is set and will be announced by the Committee.
Present at the hearing were: Congressmen Oscar Rodriguez (Chairman), Congresswoman Ma. Leonor "Leni" Robredo (Vice-Chair), Rodolfo Farinas , Silvestre Bello, Rufus Rodriguez, Samuel Pagdilao, and Romeo Acop, and others.