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Trigger-happy cops, others hauled to jail

NINETEEN people, three of them policemen, are now in jail and facing criminal charges for illegal discharge of firearm from December 16, 2020 up to last Sunday, the Philippine National Police leadership headed by General Debold M. Sinas announced yesterday.

Gen. Sinas said he has ordered the conduct of summary investigation of the three police non-commissioned officers who were hauled to jail for violating the ban on indiscriminate firing. He assured the public that the three will be fired from the service upon conviction.

A child died while seven others were injured after being hit by stray bullets during the holiday season.

Of the violators, three were policemen identified as Patrolman Gerald Cabullos of the Manila Police District Station 8; Staff Sergeant Karen Borromeo of the Malabon City Police Station; and Patrolman Pacifico Laguna Jr. of the Tubajon Municipal Police Station in Dinagat Island in Caraga region.

The others include Private First Class Ruben Amora of Army stationed in Allen, Northern Smar and Pfc. Absar Abdul of the Army’s 36th Infantry Battalion; civilians James Valenzula, Jojit Jose, Angel Elarion, Andy Binerba, Raymundo Dailoan, Giovanne Ugasan, Anjo Ballesteros, Pfc. Amora’s brother Johnrey, Julito Botron, Gerald Angeles, Arnel Kudarat and Leonisitio Olvida; barangay ‘kagawad’ Nerie Lira and Wilfredo Ama; and security guards Hercel Pagsolingan, Christian Angeles, Jeffrey Bernardo and Jeson Tacang.

Valenzuela, Ama, Pagsolingan, Tacang, Pfc. Abdul, Angeles and Pat. Laguna were all found to be under the influence of liquor when they fired their guns indiscriminately.

The number however is much lower compared to the 2019 and 2018 arrests, said PNP Director for Operations Major Gen. Alfred S. Corpus.

According to Corpus, there were 34 individuals arrested for the same offense in 2019 and 36 in 2018. From December 16, 2020 to last Sunday, the official said that 68 people were arrested for illegal possession/use/sale of firecrackers compared to the 69 apprehended in 2019 and 130 in 2018.

Corpus said that during the same period, they recorded 22 cases of illegal discharge of firearms, 20 incidents of stray bullet; 277 cases of persons being arrested for illegal possession/use/sale of firecrackers; 123 firecracker-related injuries and a single fire/burning incident caused by exploding firecrackers.

In 2019, he said that there were 33 cases of illegal discharge of firearms, 12 stray bullet incidents, 303 arrested for illegal possession/use/sale of firecrackers; 641 firecracker-related injuries and 3 fire incidents triggered by firecrackers.

In 2018, Corpus said there were 39 cases of illegal discharge of firearms; 16 cases of stray bullets; 315 persons arrested for illegal possession/use/sale of firecrackers; 421 firecracker-related injuries; and 2 fire incidents caused by firecrackers.

The official said that overall, they recorded an 81 percent decrease in firecracker-related injuries in 2020 and a 29 percent reduction in cases of illegal discharge of firearm.

Corpus attributed the great reduction in the number of firecracker-related injuries to the banning of the use of firecrackers and fireworks display by local government units.