4 men caught around the province allegedly violating Comelec gun ban

FOUR men are in custody for allegedly violating the election gun ban in Balamban, Barili, Tabuelan.

In Barangay Nangka, Balamban last Monday night, suspects Melvin Baliguat, 43, and Joel Torreon Aliviado, 45, were arrested by a team led by Senior Insp. Deni Mari Pedrozo.

The suspects were on board their respective motorcycles when they were caught during a Commission on Elections (Comelec) checkpoint.

Each suspect yielded an unlicensed .45 pistol.

Pedrozo’s team also seized their motorcycles.

Pedrozo said they will check if the suspects belong to a gun-for-hire group or are hitmen of a drug group.

In a drug bust in Barangay Poblacion, Barili yesterday, Joel Joseph Trongcao Abad, 39, was arrested at 8 a.m. Police confiscated five small packs of “shabu” and a .357 magnum revolver with five bullets from his possession.

Charges

Fifty minutes later in Barangay Bongon, Tabuelan, Darwin Goliman Arnado, 22, was caught in a drug bust, yielding two small packs of “shabu,” drug paraphernalia and a .38 revolver with two bullets.

The suspects will be charged with violating the gun ban and Republic Act (RA) 10591 in relation to Presidential Decree 1866 as amended by RA 8294 (illegal possession of firearms laws).

Meanwhile, three employees of the Balamban Municipal Government will surrender their unlicensed firearms to Pedrozo for safekeeping.

Pedrozo urged other persons, including candidates in next month’s barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections, to surrender their unlicensed firearms.

Oplan Katok

In a related development, the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) will visit the houses of gun owners to encourage them to surrender their firearms that have expired licenses and permits in an operation called Oplan Katok to ensure the safety of next month’s polls.

CCPO Director Joel Doria said that gun owners can also surrender their firearms with expired licenses at their office.

“They can approach us for safekeeping voluntarily then we can release if they can already comply with the requirements and the documents,” Doria said.

The CCPO is still finalizing the list of those with expired licenses and permits.

“We have a list but we still have to update it,” Doria said.

He also assured that Oplan Katok will not only zero in on politicians or candidates but on all, including police officers, whose firearms’ licenses are expired.

“We will only have it recorded in a logbook and it’s only for safekeeping,” Doria said.

A team from the Armed Forces of the Philippines Central Command Task Force Cebu will accompany the police when the elections kick off on May 14.