AGENTS of the Philippine National Police Anti-Kidnapping Group yesterday arrested a former mayor of San Antonio, Zambales accused of protecting an organized crime gang in the country following a raid in his house which led in the confiscation of two unlicensed high-powered rifles and dozens of ammunition, PNP-AKG director, Colonel Jonnel C. Estomo said.
In a report to PNP Officer-in-Charge, Lieutenant General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa, the PNP-AKG director identified the arrested suspect as Romeo Lonzanida, a 73-year-old former mayor of San Antonio, Zambales.
Estomo said that the accused was arrested inside his house in Sitio Nangalisan in Barangay Burgos which yielded one M-14 automatic rifle with a magazine containing 19 bullets and one cal. 5.56 AR-15 assault rifle with a magazine with 19 live ammunition.
Members of the PNP-AKG raided the suspect’s residence on the strength of a search warrant for violation of Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulations Act of 2013 issued by Judge Omar Viola of the Angeles City 3rd Judicial Region around 2:48 a.m. yesterday.
Estomo said that during the search witnessed by local barangay officials and Sheriff Florian Banabana of the Angeles City Regional Trial Court Branch 57, his men also served an alias bench warrant with finality of judgment issued against the ex-mayor by the Sandiganbayan’s 4th Division in connection with eight counts of falsification of public documents filed against the accused.
According to the official, the raid was triggered by information that the former official was allegedly protecting the notorious Ricardo Peralta Crime Group which has gained notoriety for its involvement in gun-for-hire and kidnappings in Northern and Central Luzon and some parts of Metro Manila.
“He claimed he has been in hiding for 10 years already until he was arrested yesterday,” said Estomo.
The accused will be facing criminal charges for violation of RA 10591. Estomo said that they will temporarily take custody of the ex-mayor until the court orders his commitment to jail in connection with his Sandiganbayan conviction.