LEGAZPI CITY --- The election gun ban campaign has gone on full throttle yielding at least 612 firearms since January 13 at the start of the election period this year, the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Bicol said yesterday.
Police Chief Supt. Arnel Escobal, PNP Bicol regional director, in his report at the Joint Commission on Election (COMELEC) and PNP meeting on Wednesday morning said that out of the figure only 135 firearms or 22 percent were considered loose firearms or undocumented while the rest, or 477 firearms, were surrendered for safekeeping by gun owners.
Escobal said other confiscated items were three hand grenade, 1,096 assorted ammunition, and 22 deadly weapons.
He said that in the span of two months since the start of the election period, police operatives have arrested 99 persons for illegal possession of firearms of which 93 were civilians, three were allegedly members of an armed group, and two were government employees and a security guard.
All the arrested persons came as a result of the PNP-Comelec checkpoints set up in various areas in towns, cities, and villages across Bicol.
The Regional Election Monitoring Action Center (REMAC) is closely checking at least 22 Bicol areas considered as election hot spots which are found in the provinces of Masbate, Camarines Sur, Albay, and Sorsogon.
These areas during the previous election have recorded incidences of intense political rivalries, the presence of private armed groups including sightings of New People’s Army (NPA) rebels, and loose firearms.
The PNP is still in the process of validating whether these areas of election concerns would need additional deployment of police and military troops to quell possible election-related violence.