MANILA — The Philippine National Police (PNP) have recovered 85 loose firearms in San Juan City since launching “Oplan Katok" in January, a police official said.
"Oplan Katok" is a campaign where police officers visit firearm owners who failed to renew their gun’s permits and licenses.
Of the confiscated firearms, 9 were rifles, 9 were shotguns, 19 were revolvers while 48 were pistols, San Juan City Police Chief Col. Jaime Santos said on Thursday.
He said that during "Oplan Katok," police will advise gun holders to renew their permits or have their guns stored in police vaults for safekeeping.
“Pumupunta kami nang personal and informing them of the steps to be undertaken for them to renew their license. They are observing health protocols. May distance ‘pag nakikipag-usap. May sulat din kaming iha-handover,” he explained.
(We go to their houses personally and we inform them… We observe physical distancing when we talk to these people. We also handover letters.)
San Juan City’s police chief said gun owners have a year to have their licenses renewed or else their firearms should be turned over to the PNP’s Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO).
“Kapag hindi (na-renew), i-turnover namin [ang mga baril] sa FEO. ‘Pag within 5 years hindi nila ma-renew, forfeited yan in favor of the government. They will be disqualified na maging firearms holders,” he said.
(If their licenses were not renewed, we will turnover their firearms to the FEO. If within 5 years they still failed to renew it, their firearms would be forfeited in favor of the government. They will be disqualified to become firearms holders.)
The San Juan police have already visited 1,593 gun owners but not all have surrendered their firearms, he said. They asked for more time and consideration to have their licenses renewed because of the pandemic, he added.
They still have 2,402 more people to visit in the city.
“Ang baseline namin more than 3,000. Ang nakatok namin almost 1,900. Pero we’re still giving them enough time. Pabalik-balik kami sa kanila. Yung iba wala raw time, may pandemic, tinatamad, may business o pasok. Maraming dahilan,” the police chief said.
(Our baseline is more than 3,000. We already went to more than 1,900 houses but we still return to them from time to time to follow-up. Some said they do not have time because of the pandemic. Some say they have business to attend to or they have work. They have a lot of excuses.)
Eastern Police District director, Brig Gen Johnson Almazan said gun owners or those interested to be one should apply for a license to own and possess firearms (LTOPF) at the FEO.
Confiscated guns during the “Oplan Katok,” does not mean that the owners possessed illegal firearms, Almazad explained.
“Hindi naman mako-consider na licensed [gun owner ka] kung ‘di ka mag-apply ng LTOPF. We’re not saying these are illegal per se. Pero dahil nga wala na silang license, mako-consider itong loose firearms,” Almazan added.
(You cannot be considered as a licensed gun owner if you don’t apply for LTOPF… Because some do not have a license to possess firearms, we could consider them as loose firearms owners.)
San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora also appealed to firearm holders — some of which are government officials and “high profile” personalities — to renew their firearms licenses since quarantine restrictions have already been modified.
“Ito na pagkakataon niyong i-surrender ito. Huwag niyo nang antayin na kayo ay katukin o applyan ng search warrant. We are seeing names of former government officials and high profile personalities,” Zamora said.
(This is your chance to surrender your loose firearms. Don’t wait to be apprehended by the PNP.)
He added that PNP’s campaign was also part of the city government’s peace and order program, as lesser loose firearms would mean a lower crime rate in the city.
“‘Pag mas kaunti ang loose firearms na nakakalat sa lungsod, mas bababa ang crime rate. Base sa datos ng National Capital Region Police Office, ang San Juan ang may pinakamababang crime rate ngayong 2020,” he said.
(If we have less loose firearms in the city, the crime rate will go down. Based on the data provided by the NCRPO, San Juan has the lowest crime rate this 2020.)