Howitzer shells: The new ‘bala’

AMID efforts to contain a widening scandal over a bullet-planting extortion racket at the airport, the government now faces problems with ammunition of a different sort—howitzer shells.

Documents from the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines show that the military illegally imported 4,500 rounds of 105 mm Howitzer worth P165 million from Ankara, Turkey, and 1,000 units of “fuze” for the Howitzer from the United States.

The ammunition arrived in Subic Bay port on Nov. 3 and 4 without an authority to import from the PNP.

The documents show the PNP had denied the AFP’s request for an authority to import on Nov. 2, or a day before the shipment arrived. 

Even without proper documents, the AFP was able to slip through the Bureau of Customs and transported the contraband to Sangley Point in Cavite for the Navy and Camp Aquino in Tarlac for the Army.

In a letter to Brig. Gen. Job Yucoco, AFP deputy chief of staff for logistics, PNP Director for Civil Security Group Elmer Soria said the request for cancellation of the authority to import was made by Roferma Enterprises and was approved by PNP Chief Ricardo Marquez.

Soria said the basis for the cancellation was the appointment of a local agent issued by the Mechanical and Chemical Industries, which cancelled the authority given to Roferma.

Soria said MKEK, represented by Gulderen Baglacer and Hasan Sahan, both of Ankara, replaced Roferma on April 1, 2015 with System Nomics Inc. headed by Allan Mendoza.

It was Roferma, then representing MKEK, that won the P165-million contract to supply the AFP with the 4,500 rounds of 105 mm Howitzer during a public bidding last year.

“Based on our records, System Nomics Inc. was not yet a licensed indentor [importer] at that time,” Soria told Yucoco.

“The authority to import is non-transferable. As such, should System Nomics Inc. opt to engage in the sale, distribution, importation of firearms, ammunition firearm parts and accessories for sale to the AFP, PNP or other government agencies, it should secure its own license and authority to import from the PNP,” said Soria, in a separate letter to Marquez.

 Soria identified the “end-users” of the contraband delivered by the MKEK as the Army and the Navy.

 A check with the Bureau of Customs showed no broker allowed the entry of the shipment but other documents show an “authority to transport” from the ports to the Army and Navy was issued by Senior Supt. Elmo Francis Sarona, acting chief of the PNP Firearms and Explosives Office.

Sarona’s permit to transport was used as basis by Yucoco to retrieve the goods from Subic.

While Sarona issued the permit to transport, documents also show that it was Sarona who approved Soria’s recommendation to Marquez to approve Roferma’s request to cancel the authority to import.

 “In this regard, we regret to inform you that your request for re-issuance of the authority to import could not be favorably considered either through Caballo Negro Industriya Corporation or System Nomics Inc.,” Soria told Yucoco.

“Moreover, in the letter of Baglacer and Sahan of Ankara, Turkey, dated Oct. 12, 2015, it certifies that Mr. Eduard del Mundo of Caballo has been appointed only to assist Mr. Alan Mendoza of System Nomics Inc. In this regard, assuming that legal remedies could cure such defects in this transaction, Caballo Negro Industriya Corporation still could not apply for import authority or re-issuance of such authorities as the authority given to the said local company by MKEK is limited only to assist System Nomics Inc.,’’ Soria said.

Should the AFP pursue the re-issuance of authority to import, the PNP recommended that the MKEK clarify the issued authority given to System Nomics Inc. and Caballo Negro in relation to the AFP’s request that both are authorized representatives.

“If both of them are authorized local representatives of MKEK, a separate contract agreement, Notice of Award and Notice to Proceed should be issued separately in favor of each company specifically for this transaction considering there are two different end-users [Philippine Army and Philippine Navy],” said Soria, emphasizing that all contracts and documents were awarded to Roferma.

As of Sunday, the PNP leadership was in a bind as to whether to seize the shipment, which it now considers illegal. 



Topics: AFP , PNP , howitzer shells
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