CEBU CITY – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) does not issue firearms to reservists and those who are illegally possessing them must be made to answer for the crime, an Army official said on Tuesday.
Col. Melisan Raymund Recaido, chief of the 7th Regional Community Defense Group (RCDG) of the Army Reserve Command (Arescom), said this after the arrest of 35-year-old Jhefferson Higoy for possessing high-powered firearms in a joint operation last Friday by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and Philippine Army in Barangay Marigondon, Lapu-Lapu City.
“We don’t issue firearms to reservists except for training. It’s prohibited for them to carry firearms in public,” Recaido said.
The operatives served the search warrant issued by Regional Trial Court Branch 67 Judge Joseph Stephen Ygnacio on Higoy when he was about to enter his car parked inside the Saekyung Village.
The authorities searched the car and found several firearms and ammunition. More firearms were found when they searched Higoy’s condominium unit.
NBI-7 regional director Renan Oliva said confiscated from Higoy’s possession were three .45 caliber pistols, a Bushmaster 5.56 automatic M4 rifle, several ammunition, Army uniforms and paraphernalia, as well as two identification cards -- one AFP ID where Higoy has the rank of Captain, and a Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) ID stating that he is a mechanical engineer.
Recaido told reporters in a press briefing at the NBI office here that the Arescom headquarters in Camp Riego de Dios in Tanza, Cavite has certified that Higoy is not a reservist with the rank of captain.
He said the command is also investigating whether Higoy is an enlisted reservist with the rank of sergeant as his firearm's serial number was issued along with others to graduates of Cebu Technological University-Argao even if he is not a student-member of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps in the southern Cebu school.
Oliva told reporters that based on PRC’s certification, Higoy's name is not on the roster of mechanical engineers in the country.
Thus, apart from violations of Republic Act 10591, the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act, the suspect will also face charges for falsification of public documents and usurpation of authority.
Higoy, who is now detained at the NBI holding cell, was subjected to inquest proceedings on Monday.