Info sought on Fil-Ams in alleged gunrunningBy Philip C. Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has asked the United States government for documents on the importation of high-powered firearms into the Philippines allegedly by three Filipino-American brothers to determine if they had accomplices in the country.
Fernandino Tuason, BOC Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service director, said he had asked the US Department of Homeland Security for copies of the shipping documents used by the Maralit brothers in their alleged international gun smuggling activities.
“(The Americans will) be giving us shipping documents so we can get more information about their modus operandi,” Tuason said in an interview.
“Up to now we have not seen any documents; it is just hearsay or news reports so we contacted our counterpart in the US. We will use these documents to backtrack and find out who their contacts are in the Philippines,” he said.
Tuason said the BOC could go after the recipients of the firearms if it were proven that they did not pay import duties or failed to secure the necessary gun permits from the Philippine National Police.
From January 2009 to March 2013, Fil-Am siblings Rex and Wilfredo Maralit allegedly smuggled high-powered assault rifles, sniper rifles, pistols and firearm accessories from the US to the Philippines.
Their brother Ariel, who is reportedly in the Philippines, allegedly found them customers in the country. US law enforcement authorities have arrested Rex and Wilfredo while Ariel is still on the run.
“If it would be found that there is culpability, liability in the Philippines then we would run after (Ariel),” Tuason said.
“The way I see it, these (guns) came in (one) piece at a time and some were disassembled so I do not think it is alarming, but then it is still firearms,” he said.
Tuason said the BOC also wanted to know the number of high-powered firearms the Maralit siblings allegedly smuggled into the country.