Monday, August 18, 2014
CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija – The province of Nueva Ecija, once considered the country’s “wild, wild West” due to warlordism, political killings and the presence of private armies by politicians during the 80s and 90s, has 5,000 loose firearms, according to the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Senior Superintendent Crizaldo Nieves, PNP provincial director, said the unaccounted guns are now in the hands of various individuals, including lawless elements.
Nieves said the number of loose firearms represents a fifth of the total number of guns in the province which recorded 20,000 licensed firearms. He said the number of loose firearms is down by half from the previous 10,000 at the end of 2013.
Nieves said firearms which have not been renewed are considered loose, adding firearms whose licenses have expired are not renewed for various reasons ranging from when the gun owner died, the gun was lost among others. “Essentially, when you don’t renew your gun license, then your firearm is considered loose also,” he said.
Still, Nieves said the province has the most number of firearms accounted for from January to December 2013 among the seven provinces in Central Luzon under “Oplan Bilang Boga” and “Oplan Katok.”
He said over the one-year period, the Nueva Ecija Provincial Police Office (NEPPO) carried out 186 operations, resulting in the seizure of 273 assorted firearms, 94 of them high-powered. Also recovered were 19 fragmentation grenades, assorted ammunitions.
Nieves said 92 persons were arrested and 140 cases were filed in court in connection with the crackdown against loose firearms.
Under “Oplan Katok,” where lawmen conducted house-to-house visitations of all gun holders urging them to renew their expired firearms, Nieves said during the 2013 local and barangay elections in October, they documented 5,868 and 11,363 unrenewed firearms licenses.
At the same time, Nieves said the province does not have anymore private armed groups (PAGs) based on their validation. (Manny Galvez)
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