By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan
MANILA – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday relieved a member of the Special Action Force (SAF) from his post including his commanding officer due to alleged indiscriminate firing in Nueva Vizcaya during the Christmas holiday.
Col. Red Maranan, PNP Public Information Office chief, identified the police officer as Pat. Loreto Abrio, assigned at the 145th Special Action Company, 14th Special Action Battalion, PNP SAF. He will be facing administrative raps and is now under investigation due to indiscriminate firing at Barangay Tuao North, Bagabag, Nueva Vizcaya last Dec. 30.
Maranan said that his commanding officer, Capt. John Louise Pacres, has also been administratively relieved of command responsibility from said sub-unit and transferred to the Police Holding and Accounting Unit (PHAU), PNP-SAF pending the result of the investigation.
As per the pronouncement of PNP chief, Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr., Maranan said that whoever is the immediate supervisor of the police who fired the gun will (also) be held accountable immediately.
Maranan said no significant cases were reported during the celebrations except for the three incidents of indiscriminate firing in Iloilo and the cities of Manila and Quezon from Dec. 31- Jan.1, 2023.
“Pagka December 30 ang cutoff is apat pero ang binibilang kasi natin ay Dec. 31 to Jan. 1, kasi yun lang yung related sa pagsalubong sa New Year, kasi ang binibilang natin pag Dec. 31 to Jan. 1 yung ginamit yung baril as a noise making device (If Dec. 30 would be included, there will be four reported incidents, but we are only counting December 31 to January 1 because that’s the only thing related to welcoming the New Year, because we count from December 31 to January 1 the ones who used guns as noise making device),” Maranan told the Philippine News Agency in a phone interview.
A member of the Philippine Coast Guard and two civilians were arrested for indiscriminate firing incidents.
Maranan said there were two victims hit by stray bullets and had minor injuries.
“Yung status ng ating mga biktima ng stray bullets ay mga minor injuries at nakalabas na ng ospital. One thing about this is wala tayong naitalang pagkamatay dahil sa mga stray bullet incidents (The status of our victims of stray bullets have minor injuries and have been discharged from the hospital. We have not recorded any death due to stray bullet incidents),” Maranan told reporters in Camp Crame on Monday.
Maranan added that the PNP arrested 42 violators due to illegal possession/use/sale of banned firecrackers, and confiscated illegal firecrackers worth PHP2.4 million.
The PNP will remain on full alert until Jan. 6.
Earlier, Azurin said some 192,000 PNP personnel have been deployed to places of convergence for the holidays.
“We assure that appropriate charges will be filed against those individuals who violated the law against indiscriminate firing. We have been constantly reminding our gun owners/holders to be responsible at all times in using their firearms so as not to harm innocent people, that these should not be used as a device for making noise in welcoming New Year,” Azurin said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) said a total of 89 fire incidents were recorded from Dec. 24, 2022 to Jan. 1, 2023.
BFP spokesperson, Fire Supt. Analee Atienza, said the number was 44 percent lower than the fire incidents during the same period last year which was 160.
“Sa datos natin, related po ito [fire incidents] sa electrical ignition, ito po ‘yung mga kuryente natin, at majority ay residential ang mga fire incidents na ito. Pumapangatlo ang smoking. ‘Yan ang ating mga top causes of fire (Based on our data, these were related to electrical ignition, which refers to our electricity and majority of them happened in residential areas. Third cause was related to smoking),’’ Atienza said in a separate interview.
Atienza appealed to the public to always check their power lines and electrical system to avoid fire incidents.
She also urged them to coordinate with the BFP to identify the fire hazards in their respective areas.
Atienza added that the BFP will start its modernization program in 2023, noting that 191 municipalities are still not equipped with firetrucks and have no activated fire stations. (PNA)