By Nancy C. Carvajal
Last updated 01:24am (Mla time) 08/26/2007
MANILA, Philippines — Police units in Metro Manila have been ordered to take an inventory of their armories after an intelligence report suggested that terrorists might obtain firearms and ammunition from rogue policemen and military personnel to replenish their dwindling arsenal.
“Reports said the enemies are planning to purchase firearms and ammunition from dishonest policemen and members of the Armed Forces,” National Capital Region Police Office chief Deputy Director General Reynaldo Varilla said, in issuing a memorandum directing the police to monitor and account for all their firearms.
The Philippine National Police last week raised the alert level in Metro Manila in anticipation of a possible spillover of the armed conflict in Sulu and Basilan.
The inventory-taking, Varilla said, was a preemptive measure aimed at thwarting any group planning to sow terror in the capital.
A police source who asked not to be named for lack of authority to speak, said rebels fighting the military in Mindanao were facing logistics problems due to the prolonged fighting.
He said the rebels were interested in high-powered guns and ammunition used mainly by Special Weapons and Tactics team members and the Special Action Force.
The intelligence report might have some substance, the source said, since the prices of such firearms have risen. For instance, he said, the going rate for an M-16 rifle was now between P35,000 and P40,000, when it previously sold in the black market for only P25,000.
The report also indicated that Abu Sayyaf terrorists planned to bomb in various facilities in Basilan, including power plants, to divert military attention away from them.
The military stated it had suffered 57 fatalities while 42 Abu Sayyaf bandits had been killed since the renewed offensive was launched in July following the beheading of 14 Marines.
In Cotabato City yesterday, ecumenical and inter-faith groups urged President Macapagal-Arroyo to put a stop to the war in Basilan and Sulu.
“If this all-out war will not cease, it will just cost many more lives and further drain the national coffers,” Fr. Joe Dizon, convenor of the Ecumenical Voice for Peace and Human Rights in the Philippines, and Amirah Lidasan of Initiatives for Peace in Mindanao, said in a joint statement.
Dizon said the projected P1 billion to be spent monthly to finance the war could be used to help the people, not only in Mindanao but the entire country. With a report from Edwin O. Fernandez, Inquirer Mindanao