LEGAZPI CITY: The Philippine National Police office in the Bicol region (PNP-Bicol) on Saturday seized a cache of high powered firearms in Camarines Sur and on Friday night arrested 10 armed individuals on Masbate, as both provinces remained under tight watch for the presence of private armed groups that can cause election-related violence.
Maria Luisa “Malu” Calubaquib, PNP-Bicol regional spokesperson, said a special task force in Masbate led by Senior Supt. Lito Pitallano and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) on Friday night apprehended 10 persons for violation of the Comelec gun ban in Baleno town, Masbate, and confiscated 27 high-powered firearms at the residence of village chieftain in Iriga City, Camarines Sur, on Saturday morning.
“The CIDG in Bicol has recovered 27 firearms in San Nicolas, Iriga City at the residence of Barangay Captain Ariel Luceña. Eight long and 19 short firearms owned by the village chieftain of said place,” she said.
Calubaquib added the composite team of CIDG Bicol, the police provincial command and Iriga city police personnel seized the firearms at the residence of the village chieftain or barangay captain at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday following the search warrant issued by local court as part of Oplan Paglalansag Omega of PNP-Bicol.
Confiscated from the residence Luceña were eight assorted rifles and 19 short firearms, two hand grenades, and components for an ammunition reloader.
Similarly, Special Task Force Masbate led by Senior Supt. Lito Pitallano and Baleno police personnel apprehended armed men in Baleno town at around 11:30 p.m. on Friday.
Calubaquib said Joviner Bello Dela Rosa, the village chieftain of Barangay Cangcahorao, Baleno, Masbate, reported to cops that while he was conducting a mobile patrol, he was approached by a group of men and one of them tried to shoot him but the firearm malfunctioned. This prompted Dela Rosa to escape and seek help of the police.
Police operatives immediately conducted hot pursuit operations resulting in the arrest of 10 suspects who were positively identified by Dela Rosa.
Recovered from the suspects’ were one M16 baby armalite with three magazines loaded with 79 live ammunition, one caliber .45 pistol with one magazine loaded with seven live ammunition, one homemade shotgun (sumpak) with one live ammunition, and five bladed weapons.
The arrested suspects were identified as Ruel Bello, Rico Bello, Charlie Bello, Joshua Laurio Bello, Dionesio Bunan, Antonio Pusing, Archie Bunan, Richard Gavina and Allan Cortes, all residents of Barangay Cangcahorao; and Ronilo Dela Cruz, a resident of Gangao village, Baleno town, Masbate.