1 killed, several held at Comelec checkpoints
An alleged member of a private armed group was slain by the police in San Juan town in Batangas just over an hour after the implementation of the gun ban on Sunday midnight.
In Pangasinan, a village chief in Calasiao town became the first violator in the province after policemen manning a checkpoint in Malasiqui town arrested him on Sunday morning, the start of the election period.
Senior Supt. Rosauro Acio, Batangas police chief, said the San Juan police were about to arrest Fernando Morales at 1:30 a.m. on Monday in Barangay (village) Lipahan for illegal possession of firearms but he resisted arrest and tried to escape by attempting to fire at the policemen. He was shot dead.
Superintendent Elpidio Ramirez, San Juan police chief, said Morales was protecting a politician from Quezon and a member of the private armed group known as “Batang Kubo,” so called because its members hang out in a nipa hut somewhere in San Juan town.
Senior Supt. Marlou Chan, Pangasinan police director, said firearms were also seized in two simultaneous raids from the house of a councilor and a businessman in Natividad town early dawn on Monday.
Chan said Roberto Jiorgio, 45, Macabito barangay chair, was found carrying a .45 cal. pistol when his vehicle was stopped at a checkpoint along the national road in Barangay Tambac, Malasiqui, at 12:50 a.m. on Sunday.
“Jiorgio did not have a permit to carry a firearm and did not have an exemption from the Commission on Elections (Comelec),” Chan said.
In Natividad town, a .38 cal. revolver and assorted bullets were seized from the house of Councilor Lito Rimorin in Barangay Canarem while a .45 cal. pistol and several bullets were seized from the house of businessman Rodolfo Bilog in Barangay San Eugenio.
Chan said the raids were conducted at 5:30 a.m. on Jan. 14 by members of the regional police’s special task group. They were armed with search warrants issued by Judge Manuel Pastor of the Regional Trial Court in Villasis town.
On Sunday, when checkpoints were set up in the province, Chan said police inspected about 3,214 vehicles and motorcycles within three hours.
In Nueva Ecija, two gun ban violators, one of them an 18-year-old student, were arrested in Talavera town and Palayan City.
Supt. Ricardo Villanueva, commander of the Nueva Ecija police’s public safety company, said Fernando Alvarez, 30, a resident of Llanera town, was arrested at 8:30 p.m. on Sunday at a Comelec checkpoint in Dimasalang Norte, Talavera. Recovered from Alvarez was a handgun loaded with five bullets.
The other violator, Ireneo Palma, 18, was onboard a tricycle, driven by a 15-year-old student carrying a bolo. Their tricycle was flagged down by policemen at 10 p.m. in Barangay Bagong Buhay, Palayan City.
The provincial police have recovered at least 20 firearms in Nueva Ecija since the creation of the Regional Special Operations Task Group in December.
Villanueva said the arrests and seizure of firearms were a result of anticriminality checkpoints and implementation of search warrants.
In Pampanga, police have accounted for all 7,561 firearms with expired licenses, receiving also 89 guns and rifles for safekeeping, officials said in a briefing on Monday.
“It will decrease the possible use of firearms in the elections, hence, more safe [elections],” said Senior Supt. Moro Virgilio Lazo, newly installed deputy director for operations of the Central Luzon police. Reports from Gabriel Cardinoza, Inquirer Northern Luzon; Armand Galang and Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon; and Marrah Erika Lesaba, Inquirer Southern Luzon