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City Hall bought phony rifles – manufacturer

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

A US-based manufacturer said the five rifles bought by the Iloilo City government for the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team might be fakes, according to a city councilor.

 

Councilor Perla Zulueta said she received transcripts of email exchanges between her undisclosed source and a certain George W. Holloway who is in-charge of Law Enforcement and Government Sales of gun manufacturer Olympic Arms, Inc.

 

Zulueta said the emails indicate that the supposed K23B “Stubby” rifles acquired to beef up the SWAT have different specifications from what Olympic Arms manufacture and sell.

 

Holloway said a factory K23B would have a 1×7 twist barrel. The rifles the City Government bought from R. Espineli Trading had 1×9 twist barrel.

 

“If they are in fact 1×9 (twist barrel) they are fake,” Holloway said in his email message dated December 6, 2008.

 

A barrel twist of 1×7, which is also similar to “1 in 7”, means a projectile traveling down the barrel rotates one complete turn around its own axis in 7 inches. The twist barrel stabilizes the bullet when fired from a gun.

 

Holloway’s statement backs the contention of Zulueta that the SWAT rifles did not follow Olympic Arms specifications.

 

“The discrepancies lie on the different twist barrel which is 1×7 in the original firearm while the rifles bought by the City Government had 1×9. The rifles must be full automatic while the fakes are semi-automatic, Zulueta said.

 

As regards the purchase and export of firearms from Olympic Arms to the Philippines, Holloway said orders must be made through an export company like ETSS or World Wide Sports.

 

“They are able to handle the export/import of these weapons and are on file with us as dealers. We are not able to directly send product to the PI (Philippine Islands) because of the policies of the US State Department,” Holloway said.

 

The Olympic Arms executive said all firearms exported from the US are full automatic unlike the ones purchased by City Hall which are semi-automatic.

 

The serial numbers of genuine Olympic Arms items, Holloway said, have a “DE # # # # serial number range.”

 

“There may possibly some that have a ‘E # # # # number range’, but anything more than four numbers is for sure a fake,” Holloway added in another email dated December 10.

 

Zulueta said the serial number is another indication that the rifles purchased by City Hall are fake because their serial number starts with the letters BPNP instead of the DE or E number range.

 

The City Government through the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) headed by Atty. Edgardo Gil, city legal officer, bought the five rifles from Espineli for P675,000.

 

The Bacolod City-based Espineli, which was represented by a certain Roberto Herbolario, claims to be an accredited distributor of Olympic Arms in the country.

 

Herbolario reportedly returned the City Government’s money after the controversy was exposed in the media.

 

The firearms have also been returned to the supplier but Zulueta said the City Council will still investigate the issue in an executive session with the key BAC members.

 

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M-16 Armalite rifles for SWAT substandard

 

By Jeehan V. Fernandez and Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

AT LEAST five M-16 armalites bought by the Iloilo City Government in October for the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team are considered substandard, Councilor Erwin Plagata said.

 

SWAT is a specialized police group that deals with incidents like robbery, hostage-taking and bomb threats.

 

Plagata, chair of the City Council’s committee on police matters, said there have been “reports that firearms purchased by the City Government and given to SWAT seem to be not performing properly – these might be copycats and not original.”

 

Plagata raised the possibility during the City Council’s discussion on the P336,000 budget for the purchase of additional firearms for the city police.

 

The allocation for the new firearms is included in the P73-million supplemental budget which the City Council approved Wednesday.

 

The procurement of Armalite rifles last month cost the City Hall P139,000. It was not immediately clear, however, who was the supplier of the firearms.

 

“SWAT members are complaining that the firearms might be substandard. The guns cannot be zeroed in, thus it cannot hit the target when fired,” Plagata explained.

 

Based on a report submitted to him, Senior Supt. Bartolome Tobias, OIC-director of the Iloilo City Police Office, said it was PO1 Remaria Fuentebella of the SWAT team who reported the supposed defective rifles to the Sangguniang Panlungsod.

 

Fuentebella told the committee on appropriations during a public hearing November 21 that the actual rifles they received did not match the specifications in the purchase request from the City Hall.

 

Fuentebella also told Councilors Plagata, Jose Espinosa III, Perla Zulueta and Eduardo Peñaredondo about the defective sights of the rifles.

 

Tobias said he has ordered their supply section to verify Fuentebella’s claims by checking the rifles.

 

“Issuing substandard rifles to the SWAT is dangerous. If there is a hostage situation, our SWAT members might hit the hostage instead of the hostage taker because of defective rifle sights. Our officers will also be in danger because they will find it difficult to hit the enemy,” Tobias said.

 

Tobias said City Hall may recall the alleged defective rifles and hire an independent expert to check if the guns meet the standards.

 

“These rifles are owned by the City government, not the PNP. They can always retrieve the rifles if the city wants to,” Tobias said.

 

The city’s Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) will look into the alleged defective firearms.

 

‘No firing tests, no acceptance’

 

Mayor Jerry Treñas wants “firing tests” before City Hall accepts additional new rifles from the supplier who won the bidding for the supply of firearms to the City Government.

 

“If the firearms delivered are not acceptable to the end user, we have to return these to the supplier. The BAC might have no knowledge of this specialized equipment. Though the firearms are covered by one-year warranty,” Treñas explained.

 

“There should be a firing test with the presence of the supplier so that if there are complaints on the firearms, these could be returned immediately.”

 

Meanwhile, he directed the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) to look into the reported substandard M-16 armalite rifles given to the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team last month.

 

The mayor said City Legal Office (CLO) chief, Atty. Edgar Gil as BAC chair will write the supplier about the defective firearms.

 

The City Council approved P336,000 Wednesday for the purchase of additional firearms.

 

Vice Mayor Jed Mabilog said that some 100 of the 700 city police personnel render service without firearms.

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