MANILA, Philippines—Police arrested 18 trigger-happy individuals for allegedly firing their guns during the New Year’s Eve revelry, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Wednesday.
Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo Jr., PNP spokesperson, said two persons were killed and at least 39 others were injured by stray bullets nationwide.
The two fatalities were Stephanie Nicole Ella of Caloocan City, the seven-year-old girl who was hit by a stray bullet in the head and died in a Quezon City hospital on Wednesday, and four-year-old Ranjilo Nemer of Mandaluyong City.
Citing the latest data from the PNP’s National Operations Center in Camp Crame, he said the police recorded 19 incidents of indiscriminate firing during the country’s traditional rowdy merrymaking in ushering in the new year.
Twelve of the cases occurred in Metro Manila, where 10 persons were arrested for indiscriminate firing, he added.
“Our police units have already filed cases against these arrested individuals. The PNP will continually monitor the cases of the victims of stray bullets,” Cerbo told reporters.
He said the bullet slugs and other evidence gathered by the police would be subjected to ballistic examination to determine the source of the bullets and, possibly, identify the registered owner of the firearms used.
“That’s why we appeal to the public to help the police in gathering information about their neighbors who fired their guns during the New Year’s Eve celebration. This would also help us in resolving cases of indiscriminate firing,” he said.
The PNP official said close to 400 persons were arrested during the PNP’s 7,230 operations against the manufacturers, retailers and users of powerful and illegal firecrackers.
Charges for violation of Republic Act 7183, the law regulating the manufacture, distribution, sale and use of firecrackers, had been filed against the arrested individuals.
“I think the PNP’s successful operations against illegal firecrackers contributed to the significant decrease in firecracker-related injuries,” Cerbo said.
Asked to comment on proposals to ban the use of firecrackers, he said: “As a law enforcement agency, the PNP respects the decision of our legislators. Whatever legislation they deem appropriate, whether to totally ban or strictly regulate firecrackers, we will comply.”
According to Cerbo, the PNP did not receive any reports or complaints about policemen firing their guns unnecessarily during the holiday season.