THE Philippine National Police (PNP) foiled the alleged assassination plot against President Rodrigo Duterte after nabbing several members of a gun smuggling syndicate, a police official said Thursday.

Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) director Roel Obusan said suspects Wilford Palma and his boss Bryan Ta-ala were arrested during the conduct of a police operations against loose firearms on August 6, 2016 in Bacolod City.

Confiscated from them was a package box containing smuggled gun parts from the United States with an estimated value of P4.5 million.

Palma underwent inquest proceedings before the State Prosecutor's Office at the Department of Justice on August 8 while Ta-ala was confined in a a hospital in Bacolod over hypertension.

A case was filed against the suspects for violation of RA 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act.

[READ: 2 gun smuggling suspects nabbed in Bacolod]

In a press conference in Camp Crame, Palma admitted being a member of a gun smuggling group where their "number one" customer ordered several gun parts which will allegedly be used for the assassination of President Rodrigo Duterte.

"Ang sabi sa akin ng boss ko 'yung number one customer namin balak umorder ng lower end gun parts na gagamitin sa assassination ni President Duterte," he said.

The items the customer ordered according to Palma were 100 upper receiving parts, 40 barrel and 30 vault that can form 100 M-16 rifles.

However, Obusan said the CIDG is still validating the information provided by Palma but he may be considered a witness.

Meanwhile, Obusan said 23 personalities, including nine who voluntarily appeared before the CIDG, have already expressed willingness to cooperate with the investigation being conducted against the arrested suspects.

The said persons surrendered a total of 15 gun parts composed of seven upper receivers, a butt, a handgrip, two magazine assemblies and four bolt assemblies, all bought from the suspects.

"The modus operandi of the suspects is by using fictitious names and false documents when claiming the packages with the contraband of different firearms component parts which are bought in the US, and shipped to the country through the use of legitimate international cargo forwarders. The items are then sold to gun enthusiasts across the country, which are then shipped to customers using local courier services,"said Obusan.

"CIDG investigators-on-case are still looking on the buyers of firearms, components, and/or accessories from a registered gun and ammo dealer stated in Palma’s affidavit, while they are also in the process of contacting the other listed personalities involved in the said transactions for their cooperation," he added. (Sunnex)