SINCE June this year, Police Regional Office 6 director Chief Superintendent John C. Bulalacao has launched his own Oplan: Tokhang against illegal guns and other weapons earning him several milestones in his program to prevent the proliferation of firearms that could be used to sow violence in Western Visayas especially during the forthcoming May 2019 mid-term elections.
Upon his designation by Phiippine National Police chief Director General Oscar D. Albayalde as PRO6 director, the former PNP spokesman launched his signature program called “Tokhang Kontra Guinadili-an Nga Pusil” or their own campaign against loose firearms patterned after the successful Oplan: Tokhang of the PNP against illegal drugs.
Upon his order, PRO6 men called the attention of gun owners who failed to renew their license and firearm registration and those who were identified based on validation to be illegally possessing firearms and persuaded them to register their firearms, renew their licenses or surrender it to the nearest police stations.
As a result of their ‘Soft-hand Approach, out of 59,485 baseline target of gun owners with expired license and/or expired gun registration, 24,910 Tokhang activities were conducted leading to the voluntary surrender of 5,239 guns.
On the other hand, the PRO6’s ‘Iron-hand Approach’ has already led to the arrest of 590 persons and the confiscation of 2,866 unlicensed firearms. Charges for violation of RA 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulations Act of 2013 have been filed against the suspects.
Bulalacao said another 2,524 suspects were also accosted as a result of their stepped-up enforcement of the PNP Oplan: Bakal, Oplan: Sita and other police operations and service of search warrants as part of their effort to get rid of loose firearms.
He said that in Iloilo City, the local Advisory Council for Police Transformation and Development is giving a P1,000 cash reward for any informant that would lead police to where illegal firearms and explosives were hidden.
Last October 17, Bulalacao said that simultaneous implementation of 15 search warrants for violation of RA 10591 in the municipality of Sara and other parts of northern Iloilo involving among others the Salcedos, a strong political clan who was known for maintaining private armed groups, became a milestone in their campaign against loose guns.
The operations led to the recovery of an M14 rifle, M16 rifle, Ultimax 100 311 rifle, 12-gauge shotgun, AK47 rifle, three .45 pistols, and assorted bullets at the residence of Sara Mayor Ermelita Salcedo. A caliber .38 revolver and a .22 rifle were likewise recovered from the mayor’s son; dismissed policeman Ricky and another .45 pistol from Nixon Salcedo Jr. after they traded shots with officers. Both were killed during the clash.
From June 1 to date, PRO6 agents were also able to arrest 6 high-ranking New People’s Army rebels in the region, Bulalacao said.
He said that one of their most significant accomplishments in counter-insurgency is the killing of seven suspected heavily-armed armed NPA guerrillas during an encounter in San Jose, Antique last August 25.