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Gun ban implemented in Negros Oriental

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• GILBERT P. BAYORAN

The Negros Oriental Police Provincial Office (NORPPO) yesterday announced that it will implement a gun ban in the province, six days after the assassination of Gov. Roel Degamo on March 4, in an attack where the gunmen also took the lives of eight other civilians.

Starting March 10, NORPPO said that all Permit To Carry Firearms Outside Residence (PTCFOR), have been suspended until further notice, with the exemption of the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and other law enforcement agencies (LEAs), who are performing official duties and wearing agency-prescribed uniforms, will be allowed to carry firearms.

The gun ban is a response to the continuing manhunt for the remaining suspects involved in the killing of Governor Roel Degamo and eight others inside his residential compound in Pamplona, Negros Oriental.

Operatives of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, backed up by the PNP Special Action Force, and 11th Infantry Battalion soldiers, yesterday conducted simultaneous raids against several houses owned by Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr., a political rival of the slain Gov. Roel Degamo, in Negros Oriental.

The raids reportedly yielded several firearms, ammunition, and a hand grenade, with licenses that need verification, according to a report of CIDG.

In a radio interview, Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamen “Benhur” Abalos disclosed that the search warrant covered five houses, although not all belong to Teves.

He claimed that Teves owns firearms with “spurious documents.”

In January this year, the gun licenses of Teves were revoked for lacking documents. His close-in security escorts were also recalled by Camp Crame, as they did not originate from the Police Security Protection Group.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla assured that the police operation on Teves’ house in Purok 4, Barangay Poblacion, Basay, Negros Oriental, was legal.

“There were (two) search warrants issued by the courts so I suppose that all of these were legally carried (out),” Remulla told reporters.

Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. yesterday disclosed that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. issued verbal orders to create a joint task force composed of two Army brigades, to step up and assist ongoing joint AFP-PNP operations to suppress criminal activities and impunity in Negros Island.

Lt. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, commander of the AFP Visayas Command, assured its full support to the PNP and the local government in stabilizing the peace and order situation in Negros Oriental.

AFP personnel have already been deployed to support the PNP in their law enforcement operations, so as to apprehend the remaining suspects and bring them to justice. Likewise, in coordination with our PNP counterpart, checkpoints and security patrols are now ongoing, in order to prevent any incident of such nature from every happening again, he added.*

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