16 gun ban violators nabbed in Davao

Tamugan barangay chief Renie Lim was arrested on Feb. 8 for carrying a Llama .45 caliber pistol with three magazines and 21 bullets right inside the Davao City police headquarters, according to Supt. Restito Gatera.

Gatera, the DCPO operations chief, said Lim was summoned by police investigators over the death of his wife in an ambush on Feb. 2.

During the questioning, police found Lim in possession of the gun. Lim failed to present a certificate of exemption from the gun ban, Gatera said.

On Jan. 14, Day 1 of the ban, three teenagers carrying a 22-inch samurai figured in the first arrest in Crossing Malagos and Gumalan in Calinan district.

Arrested were minors Renato Halili, 18; Jay R. Abano, 18; and Venjie Bayawan, 19. Halili and Abano were released to their parents while police filed a case against Bayawan.

Retire Marine Jaime Deocaris Maldicas, 46, carrying another Llama .45 caliber pistol with eight bullets, was arrested in Purok 4, Penano Village in Calinan on Jan. 28.

Patta Israel Opao, 56, a civilian agent of the Philippine Army, was arrested on Feb. 2 for carrying a .45 caliber MK pistol with seven bullets.

The 16 suspects were apprehended in 13 separate incidents, mostly from checkpoints installed in different points in the city.

Six firearms, including a sumpak or improvised handgun and a homemade revolver, were recovered from six of the arrests.

Deadly weapons yielded in the seven other arrests, including the samurai, seven knives, and an ice pick.

Police Superintendent Restito Gatera, DCPO operations division chief, said the number is quite the same as the rate in the first month of the enforcement of the election gun ban in 2004. But he could not give exact figures and more details of the suspects' identities.

The five-month election period, including the gun ban, will be enforced from Jan. 14 to June 13, the Commission on Elections said.

During the period "bearing, carrying or transporting firearms or other deadly weapons" is prohibited unless authorized, in writing, by the Comelec.

The gun ban is intended to curb violence during the election period, the Comelec said.

Violators of the gun ban face imprisonment and disqualification from running for any public office. They will also be disqualified from exercising their right to suffrage, Comelec Chair Benjamin Abalos Sr. said a television interview last month.

Aside from the gun ban, the Comelec has also prohibited suspension of elected local officials, transfer of government officers and employees, alteration of territory of a precinct or the establishment of a new precinct, the organization of or maintenance of reaction or strike forces, and the use of security personnel or bodyguards by candidates.