AFP says it lost weapons, ammunition following MILF chair's loose firearms claim

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 18 2019 06:41 PM | Updated as of Sep 19 2019 02:20 AM

MANILA (UPDATE)—The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) admitted Wednesday it had lost weapons and ammunition during firefights, following claims made by the interim chief minister of the Bangsamoro region that the military itself was the "main source" of loose firearms in Mindanao.

“Nakarating po sa aming kaalaman ang statement ni Ginoong Murad. At alam naman po namin na may mga kaso ng pagkawala ng mga baril at bala, sa mga nangyaring bakbakan at sa mga ambush na nangyari, na nagdaan. Pero ito naman po ay naka-record sa atin," AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said in a statement.

(The statement of Mr. Murad reached us. And we know of cases of weapons and ammunition being lost in operations and ambushes that have happened. But this is recorded.)

"Pero kung mayroon po tayong ganiyang impormasyon, at makakakuha pa po tayo ng iba pang detalye buhat kay Chairman Murad, ay magsasagawa po tayo ng karampatang inventory at imbestigasyon."

(If there is any information regarding this, and should we get any more details from Chairman Murad, we will start an inventory and an investigation.)

Arevalo said the military would "stiffly" punish under the Articles of War any AFP personnel selling military weapons and ammunition illegally.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, on his part, denied the loose firearms came from the military.

"As far as I know we have no leakage in the AFP. No report of losses or pilferages of firearms in AFP armoires or supply rooms," he said.

Instead, many firearms were lost following clashes with rebels, Lorenzana said.

"Quiet a number of firearms were lost by soldiers in encounters with lawless elements and agaw armas. Over the years, a substantial number of firearms were lost in this manner," he said.

The Department of National Defense (DND) also said "that anyone from the defense establishment who is found guilty of gunrunning or pilferage of firearms and munitions will be dealt with severely and sanctioned accordingly."

"The DND is strongly against the proliferation of loose firearms and will not tolerate any individuals or groups that violate Philippine gun laws," the agency said in a statement.

Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim, also chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), said some illicit firearms recovered in conflict-stricken Mindanao bear the markings of DND.

"I think that’s the main source (AFP armory) because now we do not see any firearms or weapons coming outside. Maybe before, during the early '70s, there are firearm purchases outside of the country but today it is no longer happening," Murad told ANC.

Murad said it is up to the military to "be strict in the control of the firearms."—With reports from Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News