LEGAZPI CITY: The Philippine National Police (PNP) in Bicol has stepped up its campaign to recover some 30,000 loose firearms scattered throughout the region, the region’s top police official said recently.
Regional Police Chief Supt Jose Arne de los Santos said that Oplan Kontra Boga has been intensified to run after those loose firearms.
“The campaign aims to recover these loose firearms by the end of the year in preparation for the 2013 senatorial and local election,” he said.
The objective is to recover more loose firearms to neutralize, if not totally eradicate, election-related violence in areas considered as troubled spots like Masbate and some parts of Sorsogon, De los Santos added.
According to police records, there are at least 29,975 undocumented firearms in the six provinces of Bicol.
De los Santos said the PNP is still in the process of determining who are keeping them and where are they being kept.
Based on the regional PNP records, Camarines Sur has the highest number of unregistered firearms, totaling some 11,412; Albay comes next with 7,829; followed by Masbate with 4,403; Camarines Norte with 2,860; Sorsogon, 2,777; and Catanduanes, 694.
These figures were collated based on intelligence reports and records of unrenewed firearm license registration, De los Santos said.
Records also show that the island province of Masbate which has been tagged as the “Murder Capital of Bicol” had the most number of deaths due to loose firearms. This deadly statistics went to as much as 225 deaths in 2009 alone.
But the number slightly decreased in the 2010 elections due to intensified disarming operations conducted by government forces against private armies allegedly being maintained by local politicians in that province.
During that period, Task Force Masbate, a composite unit from the PNP’s Special Forces, the Philippine Army and the local police force, recovered some 4,000 loose firearms from different political camps and individual holders of the deadly weapons.
Under Oplan Kontra Boga, police intelligence operatives have been dispatched all over the region to monitor and identify persons with loose firearms preparatory to issuance of search warrants.
Since the implementation of this operational plan for this year, a total of 160 assorted firearms had been confiscated during the months from January to June.
De Los Santos said that during that period, 73 firearms were confiscated in Masbate, 38 in Albay, 28 in Camarines Sur, 10 in Camarines Norte, 8 in Sorsogon, and 3 in Catanduanes. – Bicol Mail