MANILA, Philippines - Presidential Political Adviser Ronald Llamas defended his need for firearms, having received threats to his life recently.
“The firearm is one of several measures adopted in the wake of information I received several months back from senior members of the intelligence community that there were credible threats to my personal safety,” he said.
He is referring to one of the firearms, a high-caliber AK-47, unwittingly discovered when his sports utility vehicle (SUV) figured in an accident on Friday.
Truck driver Junnel Tenorio said he was driving slowly when the black Mitsubishi Montero Sport with plate number 6 bearing the acronym “OPA” crashed into his vehicle. The traffic police and the media also saw an assault rifle beneath the driver’s seat and several bullet-proof vests inside the SUV.
Some quarters are now criticizing the Aquino government for allowing such a privilege for one of its members.
He said that in April or May this year, “we got reports from neighbors and residents in my house, there were several vehicles suspiciously parked near my house.” The same car supposedly trailed him also when he fetched his child from school.
“Since then, we took it upon ourselves na mag-ingat at protektaahan aming sarili,” he said. He said he now has a total of 5 firearms: 3 short and 2 long.
He said he does not know where the threats are coming from, noting only: “Historically, I was the previous head of a political party [Akbayan], then [current agency is] involved in sensitive issues na na-polarize, like postponement of the ARMM elections, investigation of corruption especially sa previous government, issues na pwedeng meron kami natatapakan.”
He justified owning an AK-47, saying “kung gusto mong protektahan sarili mo, at the very least merong pangtapat. Just to be sure, nagkataon lang nagkaron ng insidente, di naman nilalabas yan.”
He said he is also competent in using such kind of firearm. He said he used to be a shooter. “Simple lang paggamit nun, mas simple pa sa long arms.”
In a prepared statement read early in the press conference, Llamas said: “I would like to emphasize and reiterate that there has been no attempt by anyone to withhold information about the incident, either from the police, media, or the public, or to allow those found responsible to escape culpability for their actions.”
He said he will not ask for a special treatment on the matter. “We remain fully committed to the principles of transparency and public accountability that the President has defined his administration by.”