THE city government of San Jose del Monte in Bulacan is in hot water due to numerous violations of the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act (RA 10591), the Commission on Audit said.
In its 2019 audit released last July 3, the COA said that of the 40 guns purchased by the city in 2002, 2005 and 2010, 29 are unaccounted for, four were lost although paid for, while the rest have expired and un-renewed permits.
Because of these issues, the city government’s request for the acquisition of additional firearms for its peace and order program has been denied by the PNP Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO).
The FEO informed the city mayor that it cannot process SJDM’s request unless the Report on Lost Firearms is submitted and approved together with the required supporting documents, including affidavits that the previous gun holder and the weapon have not been involved in any criminal or administrative cases, copies of the police blotter and the report of the loss, a proper investigation report and copies of the permits to carry where applicable.
According to city records of the 29 unaccounted firearms, 20 were issued to the city’s former police chief, four to the former city administrator, three to the former head of the City General Services Office (CGSO) and two to a former city councilor. None of the four was named in the audit report.
However, the audit team pointed out that primary property accountability lies with the CGSO based on the Government Auditing Code of the Philippines as he was the one who acknowledged the receipt of the said firearms.
Likewise, a second former councilor and the former head of the Civil Security Unit were held liable for the loss of two firearms each although they have reimbursed the city for the cost.
COA has recommended that the city mayor direct the General Services Officer and the City Accounting Office to issue demand letters to the former police chief, the former councilor and the former administrator to return or disclose the whereabouts of the 29 unaccounted guns.
The city government said it has already coordinated with the City Legal Officer for the filing of formal complaints against the accountable officers, while the firearms in their custody have been turned over of the PNP FEO.