GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/29 December) – Police personnel in Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao have started sealing their service firearms in compliance with a Philippine National Police (PNP) directive against the use or firing of guns during the upcoming New Year revelries.
Chief Supt. Gil Meneses, Region 12 police director, said Wednesday police units in various parts of the region are currently implementing in batches the inventory and sealing of all issued service firearms in the area using signed pieces of masking tapes.
“We’re strictly monitoring this to ensure proper compliance. The PNP has made a commitment for a safe and peaceful New Year and we’ll do everything within our means to help achieve that here in the region,” he said.
Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of Koronadal, General Santos, Kidapawan, Tacurong and Cotabato.
In this city, the sealing of the service firearms is being implemented by the city police in batches of 50 since Monday.
Aside from sealing the firearms, some police units also subjected their personnel to reorientations regarding the policy and the corresponding sanctions and penalties for violators.
Meneses warned that any police officer who will be caught violating the policy against the use of firearms during the New Year revelry will face administrative sanctions.
“The penalties for such violation are immediate suspension of one to six months or outright dismissal from service, depending on the gravity of the offense,” he stressed.
But the police official said firearms that will be used in legitimate operations may be exempted from the policy through submission by concerned personnel and their supervising officers of a verified official report pertaining to the operation.
“(But) I’m very confident that everybody will toe the line and properly comply with the order. We’ve been doing this for several years now in the PNP and the compliance rate among our personnel is quite high so far,” he said.
Meantime, in nearby Koronadal City, a city council member proposed to Mayor Peter Miguel for the issuance of a directive to all barangay councils to also implement the sealing of their issued firearms, especially those being used by local civilian volunteers.
“There were reports in the past about some civilian volunteers and barangay officials who were caught firing their guns during the New Year celebrations so I think it’s just proper to also include them in the policy and make sure that they properly comply with it,” said Councilor Floro Calixton, chair of the city council’s committee on public order and safety.
Calixton said the barangays council should also be tapped for the monitoring against the use of firearms for the upcoming revelries within their respective areas of jurisdiction.
“It’s very important for our gun holders to be responsible enough for everyone’s safety. If they want to use their guns, they can do it in the firing ranges. One stray bullet can cost a life and we don’t want that to happen,” Calixton added. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)