Press Release
January 11, 2010

Probe Palace ties in arms smuggling, Roxas asks Senate

Following the reported US government's investigation into the alleged arms smuggling operations in Maguindanao, Sen. Mar Roxas asked the Senate today to determine Malacañang's involvement in supplying the Ampatuan clan with high-powered firearms.

Roxas stressed it was important to find out how the Ampatuans acquired its sophisticated arms cache and ammunition so Congress could come up with stricter legislative measures to regulate government's procurement of high-powered firearms.

In filing Senate Resolution No. 1533, the Visayan senator expressed concerns over reports indicating that the acquisition of the firearms and bullets, including 40 Bushmaster assault rifles and hundreds of rounds of ammunition of different calibers, were made through legitimate government channels.

He noted the "trappings of legitimacy" that attended the procurement, citing the purported business transactions between the Maguindanao Provincial Government, then still under former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr., and a government-accredited arms dealer.

Roxas also cited reports that most of the firearms that were recovered from the Ampatuan properties had government arsenal markings and that majority of the ammunition recovered had "Armscorp" and "DND" (Department of National Defense) markings, showing that these weapons were sourced through and from government;

"We have to immediately stop this seeming 'legitimate' smuggling of high-powered firearms by allies of the administration. Higit tayong nagiging mas kahiya-hiya sa buong mundo dahil dito (Reports of these kind of activities cause more embarrassment for our country)," Roxas said.

Media reports claimed the US Department of Homeland Security had allegedly asked Malacañang to "enlighten" it about the purported arms smuggling activities of the Ampatuans.

"There is an urgent and compelling need to delve into how the Ampatuans were able to amass so large an arms cache, how these high-powered firearms and numerous rounds of ammunitions were sourced, purportedly through transactions involving PNP and DND officials," Roxas stressed.

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