LEGAZPI CITY -- The election gun ban campaign is on full throttle in Bicol Region, with at least 612 firearms taken and 99 violators arrested since January 13, the start of the election period this year, the head of the Police Regional Office-5 (Bicol Region) said on Wednesday.
Brig. Gen. Arnel Escobal, PRO5 director, in his report at the Joint Commission on Elections (Comelec) and Philippine National Police (PNP) meeting, said that out of the figure, only 135 firearms or 22 percent was 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 grenades, 1,096 assorted ammunition, and 22 deadly weapons.
"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 people allegedly members of an armed group, two government employees and a security guard," he said.
The arrests were done as a result of PNP-Comelec checkpoints set up in various areas in towns, cities and villages across Bicol.
Meanwhile, the Regional Election Monitoring Action Center (REMAC) is closely checking at least 22 areas in Bicol being considered as election hot spots. These are in the provinces of Masbate, Camarines Sur, Albay, and Sorsogon.
These areas, during the previous elections, recorded incidence of intense political rivalry, presence of private armed groups, 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. (PNA)