Gun ban offenders over 2,500 -- Albayalde

STRICT enforcement of the nationwide ban on the unauthorized carrying of firearms and other deadly weapons since last January 13 to date has already resulted in the arrest of over 2,500 gun ban offenders even as Philippine National Police chief, Director General Oscar D. Albayalde ordered his men to further step-up their conduct of checkpoints to arrest the presence of tools that could be used to disrupt the May 13 national and local elections.

In Metro Manila alone, National Capital Region Police Office chief, Director Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar, said his men have arrested 29 gun ban violators, shot and killed seven armed suspects who ignored officers manning checkpoints and seized 19 illegal guns, and 75 other deadly weapons since the start of the ban. “We have effectively prevented the possibility that these weapons could be used to commit violence in the streets of the metropolis,” said the NCRPO chief.

According to PNP spokesman, Senior Superintendent Bernard M. Banac, they expect the number of arrests and seizures to further increase nationwide in the next 14 weeks as Gen. Albayalde has ordered all 17 police regional offices to strictly enforce the prohibition on the unauthorized carrying of firearms in the streets from January 13 to June 12 this year.

According to Banac, the offenders were arrested as a result of nearly 278,000 police operations conducted from January 13 up to date.

He said of the total number of persons arrested, 211 were nabbed through checkpoints, 474 through search warrants, 27 through warrants of arrest, 1,355 through police patrol response and 406 through police operation plans.

Banac said the arrested gun ban offenders were composed of 2,329 civilians, 24 policemen,  3 members of the Armed Forces, 39 elected officials, 6 other members of different law enforcement agencies, 2 personnel of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, 45 security guards, 2 members of the Civilian Active Auxiliary, 1 foreign national, 20 members of armed threat groups and 2 members of private armed groups.

The PNP spokesperson said  during the period, police also seized a total of 2,039 firearms which are now under the safekeeping of the arresting units. Also confiscated were 16,379 other deadly weapons which include 76 firearms replica, 819 bladed weapons, 127 grenades and other explosives and 412 various live ammunition.

Banac said that the arrested suspects are now facing charges for violation of the Omnibus Election Code.

Gen. Albayalde also has reiterated a long standing order for all PNP men to strictly comply with police operational procedures in the conduct of checkpoints as the PNP leadership noted past glaring errors in the conduct of checkpoints and maintained those deficiencies would be corrected thru proper supervision of officers in the field.

Unknown to many, the Police Operational Procedures also encourages the participation of, but not limited to, the local government units, civil society groups, non-governmental organizations, business organizations, other civic groups, media and other stakeholders during the conduct of Police Checkpoint.

The participation of the civilians and the presence of the media in the conduct of checkpoint must be confined only as observers to give police additional eyes and at the same time promote transparency of activities in the area.

All civic groups or organizations to include the media, who are inclined to participate in police checkpoints, must be duly registered and accredited by the PNP for such purpose. The accreditation of the civilian groups to join in the conduct of checkpoint shall be administered by the Police Regional and Provincial Offices, the POP says.

Banac  said they expect “to make more arrests if people would defy our repeated warnings that they cannot carry firearms and other deadly weapons in the streets during the election period.”