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Soldiers warned vs selling guns

By GENALYN D. KABILING

The government has threatened to throw soldiers in jail if found selling firearms to Maute terrorists and other enemies of the state.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana warned about the penalties, including discharge from service, after confirming that one of the sources of firearms of the Maute rebels was from some “unscrupulous” soldiers.

“Selling is – or magbebenta ka ng baril sa labas – is a big offense in the military and ma-court martial ‘yan, mabibilanggo pa. Babayaran pa niya ‘yung firearms,” he added.

Lorenzana said when he was still in the military, erring soldiers who sold firearms to enemies were subjected to court martial proceedings. “We have identified them and we punished them. We punished those, we discharged them, we court-martialed them,” he said.

He said the same penalty applies for soldiers who could not adequately explain the loss of their firearms. 

A military official earlier revealed that many of the firearms recovered from the areas occupied by Maute group were government-issued weapons. Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay, spokesman of the Task Force Marawi, reportedly said somebody from the government must have sold the weapons to the enemies.

As of September 14, the government has recovered 692 firearms from the terror groups in Marawi City.

Lorenzana agreed that the Maute rebels could have obtained government weapons through acquisition, theft, and even smuggling.

“(There are) many ways that the Mautes acquired these firearms from the government,” he said.

“They procure from unscrupulous soldiers. Marami rin na nagbebenta kasi niyan eh na mga sundalo noon. Ewan ko ngayon kung ano pa ‘yan, kung prevalent pa ‘yan,” he said.

Lorenzana said the Maute rebels have also stolen government firearms and even combat during their clashes with soldiers.

The military armory are also sometimes ransacked by lawless elements “sometimes with the connivance of our soldiers,” the defense chief added.

“And also, they have been smuggling in from the outside through the southern backdoor, ‘yung mga galing diyan sa labas na firearms supported by the foreign terrorist groups,” he said.

He said during the Marcos regime, the government also provided many weapons to some groups to help in its security operations. 

“Marami tayong naibigay sa kanilang baril na hindi na natin na-recover,” he said. 

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