By Vicente Alejandro, VERA Files
CATBALOGAN CITY – Four persons, three of them murder suspects, and several loose firearms and ammunition were seized in a week-long operation of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Samar ahead of the elections.
The PNP in Eastern Visayas (PNP-8) conducted the operations in the hinterlands of the first district of Samar to confiscate loose guns and rid the area of private armed groups as part of the preparations for secure and fair elections on May 13.
Samar’s first district is comprised of Calbayog City and the municipalities of Gandara, Almagro, Pansanghan, Matuginao, Sta. Margarita, San Jorge, Tagapul-an, Tarangnan and Sto. Niño.
Region 8 Police Regional Director Chief Supt. Elmer R. Soria said the arrested men could have easily been tapped by unscrupulous politicians for their own interest in the coming elections while the seized firearms could be used for terroristic and other criminal activities.
The successful operation, he said, would help ensure peaceful and fair elections in Samar province, which is on the list of election hotspots of the Department of Interior and Local Government.
Police Inspector Romuel Nacar, PNP-8 spokesperson, reported on Thursday that combined elements of the Special Operations Task Group–Samar (SOTG–Samar) tracker team of PNP-8 and other police units had conducted the operation from Feb. 16-Feb. 20.
Nacar identified those arrested as Floro Diaz, Marcial Jalayajay and Zaldy Cagomoc, who have pending cases of murder and frustrated murder.
According to Nacar, Diaz was arrested in Barangay Camperito in Sta.Margarita, Samar on Tuesday afternoon. Seized from him were an M16 rifle, a Colt .45 caliber, five short and one long magazines for an M16 rifle with a total of 129 rounds of live ammunition for M16, one black 8-pocket bandoleer, and two hand grenades, among others.
Jalayajay and Cagomoc were arrested the following day in the vicinity of Barangay San Jose in Calbayog City. A fourth man, Junlex Cagomoc, was arrested for obstruction of justice during the serving of arrest warrants against Jalayajay and Cagomoc.
The police team also took in eight homemade shotguns that were voluntarily surrendered by five men in the hinterland barangay of San Antonio in Calbayog City.
The men and the confiscated items were brought to SOTG-Samar office, based in Camp Lukban in Catbalogan City, for documentation, further investigation and proper disposition.
(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)