MANILA – The number of illegally discharged firearms for the New Year celebrations tripled compared to last year despite a stern warning from the chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa has repeatedly warned his men that there will be no mercy for cops caught illegally firing their guns during the holiday revelries.
But it seems like there were still a few bad eggs like PO1 Daniel Castillo who fired his gun in Tondo, Manila just minutes before the New Year.
Witnesses say the policeman was drunk and even harassed some residents before firing his 9-mm pistol.
Castillo's case is one of four incidents of indiscriminate firing recorded by the PNP in the critical 12-hour timeframe: from 5 o'clock p.m. on December 31 to 5 o'clock a.m. on January 1.
The country's top cop even ordered maximum deployment of his men for those twelve hours.
The PNP Directorate for Operations noted a 300% increase in the incidents of illegal discharge of firearms compared with the same twelve-hour window last year.
They did however arrest five suspects out of the four incidents this year.
Meanwhile, the PNP only recorded four incidents of stray bullets in the same window compared to 38 last year.
The PNP assessed that this year’s holiday celebration was safer compared to last year.
“That’s part of the psychology, because of the strict implementation of our president talagang maraming natatakot na ngayon na magpaputok ng firecrackers. At the same time, vigilance and the continued strict implementation of the firecrackers ban by the police and the implementing agency malaking bagay din yun,” said PNP Deputy Chief for Operations, Deputy Director General Ramon Apolinario.
PNP data show that from December 16 to January 2, there were 224 untoward incidents in the country which includes the use and sale of firecrackers, stray bullets, unauthorized discharge of firearms and others.
Nineteen people were arrested for illegal discharge of firearms, 14 civilians, one cop, one military personnel, and three security guards.
The PNP is still looking into four cops and three army men who also allegedly fired their guns during the revelries.
“The PNP is doing its best and all its efforts to identify and to arrest all the violators,” Apolinario said.
The PNP expects the numbers to increase as more reports come in from across the country.