A cop and two soldiers were among the 18 persons nabbed by the police as of Monday due to unauthorized use of firearms ahead of the New Year revelries.
Philippine National Police spokesperson Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said as of 6 a.m. on 30 December, the arrested suspects were one each from Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Calabarzon, Western Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula and Caraga; two from Bicol, Northern Mindanao, Davao Region and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BARMM); and three from the National Capital Region.
Banac said a non-commissioned police officer assigned in Caraga has been arrested and detained, two soldiers apprehended in BARMM and a security guard apprehended in the Davao Region.
The illegal discharge of firearms in Metro Manila resulted in the wounding of two people while five were wounded in BARMM.
Meanwhile, three stray bullet victims have been recorded—two from Caraga and one from NCR.
Banac called on the public to immediately report cases of indiscriminate firing, especially as the New Year celebration draws closer.
“We are constantly reminding our responsible gun owners, never use guns if they are under the influence of liquor. During these times, some are tempted to use their guns. This is a reminder again for them to avoid causing harm to our countrymen because it is illegal),” said Banac.
“We are also asking the public to immediately report to the police any case of indiscriminate firing, whether the perpetrator is a civilian, policeman or any government people.”
Banac said there is a strict directive from the PNP leadership to run after those who would dare to fire their guns before, during and after the New Year revelry.
“This is about the protection of the people from stray bullet deaths or injuries so let us work together on this,” he added.
For the civilian violators, they will be slapped with criminal charges.
For government employees that include policemen and soldiers, additional administrative charges will be filed wherein the maximum penalty is dismissal from the service.
The PNP stopped the practice of gun muzzling for the yearend holidays in 2016 under then top cop and now senator Ronald Dela Rosa.
PNP deputy chief for operations Lt. Gen. Camilo Pancratius Cascolan, however, said a one-strike policy will apply to all police commanders and chiefs of police who will fail to take appropriate action on cases of indiscriminate firing by their personnel within 24 hours.
This means the police commanders and chiefs of police will immediately be relieved even if only one of their personnel is involved.
Cascolan also urged police commanders to intensify community partnerships in order to identify people in the barangay possessing loose firearms.
He said that in most cases, unlicensed guns are the ones being used for indiscriminate firing. (PNA)