MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - Presidential adviser for political affairs Ronald Llamas expressed “deep regret” over the involvement of two of his staff members in a vehicular accident wherein the police also discovered a high-powered firearm inside Llamas’ SUV.
Llamas has ordered the dismissal of the aides and said an internal investigation by the Office of the Political Adviser (OPA) is also underway.
He said there was no attempt to cover up the matter and vowed to cooperate with the police investigation. “It goes without saying, the OPA will continue to extend full cooperation and support to any legal and judicial process that may arise as a result of the police investigation,” Llamas said in a press briefing held in Malacañang after he arrived from Geneva, Switzerland where attended the Executive Committee meeting of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).
Llamas said his office would also look into the liability of the one who responded to the scene of the accident and “secured” the firearm, thereby touching the scene of the accident.
“In retrospect, baka ganoon nga dapat ang ginawa (not to touch the scene of the accident). Pero noong nangyari kasi ‘yun, maraming mga tao, may isang MMDA ata na nandoon. Kaya minabuti nila na i-secure yung laman ng sasakyan. Baka kasi mawala... Yun ang kanilang judgment call nung nangyari ‘yun,” Llamas said.
“‘Yun ang haharapin namin ngayon sa imbestigasyon ngayong nandito na ako. Ano ba talaga ang detalye ng nangyari? Pero ‘yun lang ‘yung initial na paliwanag, para i-secure yung mga gamit ko doon sa loob ng sasakyan. Maraming taong nakapaligid, hindi nila sigurado kung ano mangyayari kaya ginawa nila ‘yun. Pero tama ka, kailangan naming pag-aralang maigi, kung ano ba dapat yung ginawa,” Llamas said.
Threats to life
Llamas said he acquired the AK-47 in June and had it licensed in July after receiving “credible threats” to his life.
In the press briefing, Llamas narrated that neighbors had alerted him last April or May about a suspicious vehicle parked near his house in Quezon City. In May, the same vehicle, a black Honda Civic, was seen following his daughter who was on her way to school.
Llamas believes the threats stem from his work as political adviser, who is also involved in unearthing information about corruption cases involving the previous administration. He is also an advocate of the postponement of the ARMM elections.
“I presumed dahil doon sa mga delicate issues na dinadala ng office ay mayroon kaming mga natatapakan, may mga nate-threaten,” he said.
Aside from the AK-47, he said he also owns another long firearm, an M-16, and three other short firearms. Llamas said he acquired the M-16 also after receiving threats to his life while the short firearms were acquired before he became a presidential adviser.
Why purchase a high-powered firearm like an AK-47? Llamas said he needed this type of firearm to counter criminals in case the threats against him materialize.
“‘Yung mga karaniwang kriminal sa ating bansa like ‘yung mga carnappers ay very heavy ‘yung kanilang mga dala-dala, M-16, M-14, perhaps even higher calibers. Kaya kung gusto mong protektahan ‘yung sarili mo, at the very least, sana may pantapat ka man lang at baka hindi sapat ‘yung mga short firearms lalo na kung ‘yung mga magte-threaten sa’yo ay may hawak na mga long firearms. Usually naman nakikita natin ‘yung mga ambushes, ang dala-dala ng mga nang-a-ambush ay mga long firearms. So just to be sure. Nagkataon lang na nagkaroon ng aksidente, nakunan ng litrato, pero hangga’t maaari naman hindi naman nilalabas ‘yan e. Nakatago lang ‘yan,” Llamas said.
He said the firearm is licensed under his name and that he has a permit to carry the firearm. He said it is legal for “high government officials” to acquire such high- powered firearm especially if there is a security threat against his life.
Llamas said he has already requested for official security detail from the PNP last September.
Llamas said he has not used the AK-47 but said he is competent to use it, citing his experience in handling rifles during his ROTC days and shooting in the firing range using other firearms. A gun enthusiast, Llamas said he has joined President Aquino in the firing range in a couple of occasions.
Llamas said before he left for Geneva, he had instructed his aides to have the firearm “unloaded” from the vehicle and “safely secured.” “But apparently, the two staff members neglected to comply with these instructions,” Llamas said.
Llamas said he would support the filing of charges against his former aides if the PNP recommends so. Llamas said one of them, driver Joey Tecson, is a military reservist.
The Quezon City Police District has said it will file charges of illegal possession of firearms against Tecson.
Tecson will also be stripped of his license to carry a gun. He owns a Glock 9 mm.
Llamas has already sacked Tecson and the other aide, John Alarcon, for unauthorized use of his vehicle and for bringing out his firearm.