‘Maute uses govt arms’
A LAWMAKER on Tuesday asked the Defense Department to probe the reports that some of the weapons and ammunition being used by the terrorist Maute Group in Marawi City came from a government arsenal in Limay, Bataan.
Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles, head of the House of Representatives’ committee on appropriations, sought the inquiry after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana did not categorically deny that ammunition boxes with Government Arsenal markings were among those recovered in the areas in Marawi that were cleared by government troops in their fight against the terrorists.
He made his statement even as Malacañang on Tuesday told Filipinos not to fall for “fake news” amid reports that the Pentagon had considered conducting air strikes on “ISIS targets” in Marawi City using armed drones.
“Even leading news networks can get it wrong and fall prey to false reports and fake news,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said.
“Be careful and always double-check your reports before sharing and acting on anything, Let us help one another in fighting fake news.”
In Monday night’s budget presentation of the department, Lorenzana said the ammunition boxes with ARMSCOR Philippines markings were among those discovered by the authorities during clearing operations. Armscor Philippines is a local gun and ammunition manufacturer, dealer and importer.
Government Arsenal chief Jonathan Martir, on the other hand, claimed they could not monitor the distribution of ammunition that are manufactured in the Government Arsenal Bataan plant after turning them over to the AFP’s Logistics Command.
Nograles said he saw the photos of the ammunition boxes that were purportedly issued by the DND’s Government Arsenal, and that he was deeply concerned that government-manufactured firearms and ammunition were falling into the wrong hands and being used to kill and maim government security forces.
Nograles also asked the Defense department about its compliance with President Duterte’s instruction for the immediate acquisition of various life-saving medical equipment such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging machines, catherization laboratory and hyperbaric chamber that are direly needed by military hospitals.
Lorenzana said there were delays in the acquisition of these equipment due to bidding and procurement problems.
Nograles noted, however, that the DND had yet to conduct the bidding process for P537 million worth of hospital facilities that were supposed to benefit wounded military personnel.