ON A TECHNICALITY
LINGAYEN—The Prosecutor’s Office has dismissed due to technicality the case on illegal possession of firearms filed by the police against the mayor of Agno town last week.
The charges were filed following the seizure of an M16 rifle and several ammunition – including 252 live ammunition for M16 rifle, 18 live ammunition for caliber 60 plus 10 long magazine assembly for M16 rifle and five short magazine assembly for M16 rifle – from the residence of Mayor Jose Pajeta Jr. Wednesday morning in Poblacion East, Agno town.
Pajeta told The PUNCH the case was dismissed after inquest proceedings and he will be talking to his lawyer on what legal action to take next.
Meanwhile, Senior Superintendent Marlou Chan, officer-in-charge provincial police office (PPO), confirmed the dismissal of the case in a text message to The PUNCH.
Chan said they are now studying the decision and might file a motion for reconsideration depending on the advice of their legal officers.
In a radio interview, Chan said he has yet to see a copy of the prosecutor’s decision but has been told that the dismissal is due to the firearm and ammunition confiscated not being included in the search warrant.
“They said the mayor surrendered the gun seized, but I said why did he surrender it just when policemen were already there in his house in the process of serving the search warrant? I’m having this studied by our lawyers,” Chan said.
The subject of the search was a carbine but lawmen got an M16 rifle with an expired license.
Chan also questioned why the mayor did not sign a document for his gun surrender.
The police chief also stressed that it will all depend on the prosecutor’s appreciation of the case but the Philippine National Police usually looks “at how to file cases on exceptional circumstances”.
On the same day that the search warrant was served on Pajeta, raiding teams composed of members of the PPO and Regional Special Operations Task Group also swooped down in the respective houses of a barangay kapitan and other residents.
The police seized from the house of Barangay Chairman Wilson Nivera of Gayusan one caliber 45, 14 live ammunition for caliber 30, 12 live ammunition for 12 gauge shot gun, 20 live ammunition for M16 rifle, seven live ammunition for caliber 38 revolver, 16 live ammunition for carbine caliber 30, 16 live ammunition for caliber 45, two magazine assembly for caliber 45 and one 1 magazine assembly for M16 rifle.
In the house of one Ruperto Batalla of Barangay Boboy, also in Agno, who is reportedly part of a newly-identified private armed group operating in the town, the police confiscated one caliber 9 mm viper 2, one magazine assembly for caliber 9mm, 22 live ammunition for caliber 9mm, six live ammunition for caliber 38 revolver and three live ammunition for caliber 45.
Another raid was done in a house in Barangay Viga, but this yielded a negative result.
Chan explained that the raids were part of the PPO’s intensified campaign against loose firearms in relation to Oplan Kontra Boga, Republic act 8294 and the Commission on Elections Gun Ban Resolution-9587,9561-A through search warrants issued by Judge Emma–Ines Parajas of Branch 51 of Tayug , Pangasinan.
Chan also stressed that the search warrants were intelligence-driven and that “there is no selective enforcement of the law.”
“We’re just enforcing legitimate orders, we will never engage in activities that favor a party or politician,” he added.
The seized firearms will be subjected to cross-matching to see if any of these are linked to unsolved shooting incidents as that of the killing of former Agno Mayor Arthur Cabantac.
Previously, a ballistic examination established that only one gun was used in three shooting incidents in Urdaneta City.
Meanwhile, Chan, who is also the RSOTG Deputy Task Group Commander, urged everyone who owns firearms to either renew their licenses or surrender them.—Eva Visperas with report from Johanne R. Macob