- The PNP relieved the Firearms and Explosive Office (FEO) chief and 14 others over anomalies
- The PNP is currently investigating irregularities in the issuance of gun licenses by the FEO
- Undercover agents have previously proven that the FEO accepted falsified documents
The Philippine National Police (PNP) dismissed 15 personnel, including the chief of the Firearms and Explosive Office (FEO), over alleged irregularities in the processing of the License to Own and Possess Firearms (LTOPF) that is being uncovered in an ongoing administrative investigation.
PNP Director General Ricardo Marquez ordered the dismissal of the FEO Chief Supt. Elmo Francis Sarona and 11 of his subordinates from their current posts: Senior Insp. Edward Onate, SPO2 Darwin Miguel, SPO1 Edward Bondoc, PO3 Ferdinand Sapla, PO3 Alberto Dominong Jr., PO3 Ben Ferel, PO3 Joan Liza Young, PO3 Roy dl Rosario, PO3 Rodel Crisostomo, PO3 Emmanuel Cajulao and PO3 Bernard Catungal.
Three non-uniformed personnel (NUP), Audita Cabbab, Emelia Lorenzo, and Edith Famillaran, were also relieved of their duty in the FEO.
However, PNP spokesperson Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor told the Manila Times that the dismissal of the 15 individuals was procedural administrative action which aims to prevent them from influencing the outcome of the investigation.
The personnel have since been reassigned to the Office of the Director of Civil Security Group, upon the recommendation of PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Director Victor Deona.
Meanwhile, Senior Supt. Cesar Hawthorne Binag has been designated as FEO officer-in-charge.
The CIDG had earlier discovered anomalies in the issuance of gun licenses by the FEO when undercover agents of the CIDG Anti-Fraud and Commercial Crime Unit (AFCCU) successfully obtained firearms without securing required documents by paying a package fee of P15,000.
Using this piece of intelligence, the CIDG is expected to file separate criminal cases for alleged falsification of official documents against 12 other individuals accused of faking clearance certificates in order to obtain firearms.
For his part, the former FEO Chief Sarona said he is “optimistic” that the investigation would help “level up” the procedures of the FEO; adding that he had previously recommended the dismissal of careless, negligent or erring personnel.
“While we have to admit some vulnerabilities in our system and human frailty in processing, like our verifier/processor at first glance can only ensure the completeness of the requirements and not the authenticity, same is true in our system,” he told PhilStar.