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Police authorities are checking the claim of a gun smuggling suspect that some of the illegal firearms parts they sold would be used in an alleged assassination plot against President Duterte.
Wilford Palma, arrested following the bust of a gun smuggling syndicate in Bacolod City, said he overheard a buyer telling his boss, Bryan Ta-ala, that they plan to kill the President.
Speaking in Filipino, Palma told a press conference yesterday that the buyer is a regular customer who purchased the gun parts early last month.
Palma said the gun parts could be assembled into more than 100 M-16 rifles. These consist of more than 100 upper receivers, 40 barrels and 30 bolt assemblies.
The name of the client was not given, but Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa said he doesn’t believe he is a gun-for-hire.
“Baka inutusan siya ng sindikato na bilhin for that purpose,” Dela Rosa said.
Because of the revelation, Chief Supt. Roel Obusan, director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), said they will provide Palma additional security.
Ta-ala was also arrested in the police operation, but was brought to a hospital due to high blood pressure.
The CIDG said the syndicate has been selling imported firearms parts and accessories online. Some of the guns and accessories also ended up in legitimate gun stores across the country.
Obusan said his men seized some P4.5 million worth of United States-made gun accessories and gun parts – seven upper receivers for rifles, magazine and bolt assemblies, buffer spring locks, firearms butt assembly parts and suppressors.
“The modus operandi of this group is using fictitious names and false documents in claiming the packages with the contraband of different firearms component parts which are bought in the US and shipped to the country through the use of legitimate international cargo forwarders,” said Obusan.
He said the gun part and accessories are easily being sneaked into the country since the syndicate used balikbayan boxes which do not usually undergo strict inspections.
“The items are then sold to gun enthusiasts across the country which are then shipped to the customers using local courier services,” said Obusan.
The official said the group of Ta-ala has been selling the gun parts and accessories through the PInoy Pistol Forum website.
He said customers are easily being lured to buy the gun part and accessories since they are imported and are being sold cheaper compared to the existing pricing of legitimate gun stores.
Dela Rosa, chief of the Philippine National Police, urged the gun store owners and other persons who bought the gun parts and accessories from Ta-ala to surrender the item they purchased.
“If they would not do it, then we will run after them because it is very dangerous that these accessories land on the hands of civilians,” said Dela Rosa.
As of yesterday, a total of nine customers have already surrendered the items they bought from the group of Ta-ala.
Dela Rosa said they expect more to come since the group of Ta-ala has been in operation for two years now.