Metro Manila cops under ‘one-strike’ policy
Metro Manila police chief Maj. Gen. Jonnel Estomo has imposed a “one-strike” policy against police officers firing their firearms during New Year festivities and warned of sanctions against their commanders as well.
Estomo issued the order as the Department of Health (DOH) reported that firecracker-related injuries climbed to 56 on the morning of New Year’s eve after 11 more cases were reported.
“Our police officers must know in the first place that indiscriminate firing is prohibited regardless of the occasion,” Estomo said.
He said the PNP has not yet received any report of indiscriminate firing among its police officers, but it is investigating at least four victims of stray bullets. On Saturday, Col. Jean Fajardo, spokesperson for the PNP, said the youngest victim was a 13-year-old boy from Maramag, Bukidnon, who was wounded by a stray bullet on Christmas Eve.
“He was only watching the parties in the neighborhood when he belatedly realized his left hand was already bloodied,” Fajardo said.
“It was only after he was brought to the hospital after an X-ray procedure that the family learned he was hit by a stray bullet,” she added.
The victim was already out of the hospital and the extracted slug was already forwarded for ballistic examination. Police are still investigating the source of the stray bullet.
Last year, the PNP investigated 18 cases of cases of illegal discharge of firearms, but none of them involved a police officer.
“Muzzling is not necessary,” Estomo said, referring to the dubious practice of wrapping masking tape on the muzzles of the firearms of the PNP’s more than 220,000 personnel. The practice was discontinued in 2016.
But Estomo said that aside from errant police officers, he would also hold accountable station commanders and even district directors in Metro Manila if their personnel were found to have discharged their weapons for no valid reason during the New Year celebration. Commanders of any of the 17 police stations in Metro Manila will be immediately removed from their posts should a police officer under their command be arrested for indiscriminate firing of firearms.
If three police officers are caught, then the director of any of the five police districts will be removed from his post.
“So talk to your police personnel, give them guidance so that they will not unnecessarily pull the trigger of their service firearms,” Estomo said.
According to the DOH, most of the 56 cases tallied so far were from Metro Manila and Western Visayas, with 11 reported cases each.
About half, or 52 percent of the cases, sustained eye injuries. No firework ingestion or stray bullet accidents had been reported so far.
Maria Rosario Vergeire, officer in charge of the DOH, advised earlier that those with minor firecracker injuries should properly clean the affected body part with soap and water and wrapped with clean cloth.
She added that those needing emergency attention should immediately go to the nearest hospital to prevent tetanus infection. INQ