LEGAZPI CITY (27-Sept-2012/PNA) – The Masbate police is running after gun owners who have not renewed their licenses and permits.
PNP regional director Chief Supt. Jose Arne de Los Santos said he has ordered Masbate provincial police director Senior Supt. Heriberto Olitoquit to go after these gun owners.
De los Santos said there are a total of 2,178 guns in Masbate with expired licenses and permits.
“We are advising owners of these firearms to renew their papers as soon as possible and if they are no longer interested in renewing, they should surrender them to the nearest police station to avoid criminal prosecution,” De los Santos said.
“Should they fail to do so within a given time, our next recourse is to secure search warrants to seize the firearms and file criminal charges for illegal possession of firearms,” he explained.
He said he ordered policemen in Masbate to conduct home visits to the gun owners to convince them either renew their licenses or surrender the firearm.
Guns with expired licenses are considered loose firearms “and those guns with expired licenses would be added to the list of about 4,400 illegally owned firearms in Masbate,”de los Santos said.
He said the local police has launched the “Opland Kontra Boga,” in Bicol as it intensify its campaign against loose firearms.
“There are 29,975 unregistered firearms in Bicol,” De los Santos said adding that “the problem is that we do not have a concrete idea as to who are keeping them now and where exactly these firearms are”.
Based on the regional PNP records, Camarines Sur had the highest number of unregistered firearms at 11,412, Albay came next with 7,829, Masbate with 4,403; Camarines Norte with 2,860; Sorsogon, 2,777; and Catandunes, 694.
Records also show that the island province of Masbate which is known as the “Murder Capital of Bicol” had the most number of deaths from loose firearms by registering 225 cases in 2009, the highest in the region.
The figure was, however, slightly lower compared to the following year owing to the massive disarming operations conducted by government forces against private armies employed by local politicians during the 2010 election period.
Task Force Masbate, an elite unit of lawmen from the PNP’s Special Forces, Regional Mobile Group Battalion and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), backed up by the local police force and the Philippine Army (PA) recovered around 4,000 loose firearms from various political camps and individual holders during that period.
As the election period draws near, the entire organization of the PNP in Bicol is doubling its efforts to recover more loose firearms to minimize if not totally eradicate election-related violence in areas considered as troubled spots like Masbate and some parts of Sorsogon, De los Santos added.(PNA)