MANILA, Philippines - A Philippine National Police (PNP) general, one of 19 police officers held accountable for the 1,004 missing AK-47 rifles that landed in the hands of communist rebels, said yesterday he will clear his name.
“I choose to remain focused on my duties here in Central Luzon rather than aggravate the situation. We will have our day in court and I am confident that the truth will come out,” Police Regional Office 3 director Chief Superintendent Raul Petrasanta, former Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO) chief, said in a statement.
He issued the statement a day after the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group announced that they are set to file charges against him and 18 other police officers.
Petrasanta is reportedly being groomed by President Aquino as the next PNP chief once Director General Alan Purisima retires in November 2015.
He said he does not want Aquino “to think that a media war is ensuing as this case is blown out of proportion.”
Criminal Investigation and Detection Group chief Director Benjamin Magalong mentioned only five names out of the 19 police officers he accused of being responsible for the rifles ending up in the hands of the New People’s Army. Aside from Petrasanta, he named Chief Superintendent Regino Catiis, currently executive officer of the Directorate for Comptrollership; Directors Gil Meneses and Napoleon Estilles, who are both on non-duty status in preparation for their mandatory retirement, and retired Chief Superintendent Tomas Rentoy III.
Meneses headed the Civil Security Group, while Estilles and Petrasanta were former chiefs of the FEO. Catiis and Acierto headed the FEO’s Firearms Licensing Division.
Rentoy told The STAR he will attend the hearing in Congress next week while Estilles said the allegations are “mere fabrications bereft of evidence.”
Barking up wrong tree
Perfecto Jaime Tagalog, secretary-general of the Coalition of Filipino Consumers, claimed the PNP is barking up the wrong tree when it blamed the 19 policemen for the missing firearms.
He said the CIDG should train its sights on security agency owner Isidro Lozada, who claimed the NPA threatened to kill him and his family if he does not facilitate the purchase of rifles for the rebel group.
“The transactions were aboveboard and went through (the proper) procedures. The end-users should be the ones to face charges and not the police officials,” he said. – With Cecille Suerte Felipe