68 Guns-for-hire Still In Ilocos Region

Northern Dispatch
Posted by Bulatlat

BAGUIO CITY — At least 68 guns-for-hire are still roaming free in the Ilocos Region contracting “kills” for a fee, police admitted here in this resort city 246 kms. north of Manila.

Although 11 were considered “neutralized” before and during the May polls, the rest of the 79 earlier noted by Ilocos policemen composing at least 12 partisan armed groups are posing dangers to the “peace and security” in the lowland plains.

This amid police’s post election assessment during PNP chief director general Jesus Verzosa’s visit here Tuesday during the Transformation Forum attended by various “peace stakeholders” in Regions 1, 2 and Cordillera that election related violence in the Ilocos region was “very minimal and non-alarming”.

There were 16 poll-related violent incidents in the four provinces in the region (Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union and Pangasinan), a rise of six from only ten incidents in the 2007 elections.

Sr. Supt. Marlo Chan of the Ilocos Regional Police Office reported that only eight were killed this election, two of these they considered as “solved” with the filing of cases.

Pre-election violence was recorded by the police to have reached 12 cases.

Despite this however, the Ilocos police was on its toes in ridding the region of partisan armed groups and loose firearms and enforcing the gun ban during the elections with the arrest of 181 violators and confiscation of a total of 140 firearms including 672 gun replicas.

Ilocos region policemen also arrested 32 individuals for illegal possession of firearms in the course of the implementation of search warrants issued by the court in a bid to lessen illegal firearms in the hands of non-authorities. At least 29 are facing various violations of the firearms law, Chan reported to Verzosa.

Special focus was given to Abra, a “hotspot” because of intense political rivalries, where policemen held 30 guns-for-hire of four existing “warlords” and seized at least 25 firearms.

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