Police believe it will be used by hired goons in the Barangay and Youth Elections on May
Assorted homemade firearms valued at P1.5 million believed to be intended to be used in the barangay and youth polls this May were seized Sunday in a police operation in a remote village in Danao City, 49 kilometers North of Cebu City.
This was the first time in a while that authorities have raided a makeshift gun-making factory and seized equipment and homemade guns, popularly known as Paltik, for which Danao City has been notoriously known of in the past.
However, the financier identified as a certain Ronnel Gomez and a still undermined number of workers managed to elude police arrest.
Still, Senior Insp. Nazareno Emia, Deputy Chief of Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) Provincial Intelligence Branch (PIB), was confident that their recent operation would help ensure a safe and orderly conduct of the barangay and Sanguniang Kabataan (SK) elections on May 14 this year.
Emia said that with the volume of firearms that they confiscated, he could not discount the possibility that these were intended for use by hired goons in the May 14 election.
“Here in Danao you can buy a gun anytime in secret because they (the manufacturers) were illegally disposing firearms. We could not discount the possibility that this will be used on the incoming barangay election because of this number of firearms they made,” Emia told Cebu Daily News.
Emia said they were also looking into Gomez’s background and his possible links with two persons who were arrested for trying to transport 21 Paltik firearms out of Pier 1 in Cebu City on Nov. 12, 2017.
Arrested were Eulidiano Camanse, 43, and his half-sister Richel Puno, 48, for failure to show any document to prove they were authorized to possess and transport the 17 pieces of .45 caliber pistols and four pieces of .38 revolvers from Cebu to Ozamis City.
Illegal gun manufacturing
Sunday’s joint operation by PIB, the Danao City Police Office and the Provincial Mobile Force Company of the Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) led to the confiscation of 36 still unfinished gun pieces, several magazines and machines used in its manufacture.
The police inventory included .38 caliber revolver – 14, .22 magnum revolver – 10, .45 caliber pistol – 9, 9mm pistol – 2, .22 caliber ingram machine pistol with magazine – 1, assorted machine pistols – 9, assorted gun barrels – 13, frame pattern for a .45 caliber pistol – 3, and frame pattern for a .38 caliber revolver – 2.
Other confiscated items were vise-grip gato – 55 pieces, grinder – 2, welding mask – 1, push and grill – 2, welding machine – 1, drilling machine (“tornohan”) and several pieces of flat iron (“limbas”) , round bars, and a steel saw and hammer.
Emia said they have placed Gomez’ group under surveillance for almost three week prior to Sunday afternoon’s operation.
Tips coming from residents of the mountain barangay of Masaba located at least nine kilometers from Barangay Poblacion led the police team to a makeshift shanty, which Gomez has been using in his illegal gun manufacturing operations.
The open air shanty had roofing made from nipa.
It was located around 50 meters from the nearest resident.
“Gomez do not stay in one area. He moves his operation from one place to another to avoid arrest,” Emia said in Cebuano.
True enough, Gomez and his workers scampered when they sensed the presence of approaching policemen.
Emia said they only found the still unfinished guns placed on top of bamboo tables when the police swooped in at around 12 noon on Sunday.
The PIB operatives brought the confiscated items to their headquarters located at the CPPO Compound in Sitio Sudlong, Barangay Lahug, Cebu City.
Senior Supt. Edgar Alan Okubo, CPPO Director, said they would present the unlicensed firearms to Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, who was expected to visit Cebu today together with President Rodrigo Duterte.
Legalizing Danao’s Gun Industry
Danao City has for decades been known for its Gun Manufacturing Industry, which resulted to the proliferation of loose firearms in Cebu and around the country, particularly during the periods from the 1970s to the 1990s.
There have been several attempts by the Danao City government to legalize the operation of the Workers League of Danao Multipurpose Cooperative (WORLD-MPC) that manufactures firearms but this was never approved by the PNP hierarchy.
In 2013, then fifth district representative Joseph Felix “Ace” Durano sought the assistance of then Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Manuel Roxas III to hasten the process of legalizing the Danao gun industry but nothing happened.
Supt. Jaime Quiocho, chief of the Danao City Police Station, said there is no known legitimate gun manufacturer in city to date.
Gomez’ operation was also the first illegal gun manufacturing operation that was brought to his attention since he assumed his post last month.
Quiocho said that Danao City Mayor Ramonito “Nito” Durano III, who was also a former congressional representative of the fifth district and father of Ace Durano, mentioned to him his plans of soliciting the help of President Duterte, a distant relative, in legitimizing the gun industry in his city.
Durano, Quiocho said, intends to speak with President Duterte on the matter in today’s presidential visit.
Mayor Durano could not be reached for comment last night. Calls and messages sent to his cellular phone number were unanswered.