PUERTO GALERA, Oriental Mindoro—The Philippine National Police seized on Saturday, in two checkpoints, a staff car of a ranking municipal official carrying high-powered guns and four still unidentified personnel in clear violation of the Omnibus Election Code being implemented by the Commission on Elections.
Elements of the Regional Public Safety Battalion headed by a Superintendent Frias, stopped at a Comelec checkpoint in Barangay Sto. Niño a black Nissan Patrol SUV, with red-colored plate number SHU 897, registered with the Puerto Galera municipal government.
Found inside the government vehicle were two .45 cal. pistols and two high-powered rifles, an M-16 and M-14 rifles.
Passengers of the car, a certain Mark Ramilla and three other unidentified persons, were arrested and brought to an unidentified location for questioning.
In another Comelec checkpoint in Barangay Balatero, P/Senior Inspector Gabito, apprehended two suspects, identified as Marcelino M. Banaag and Roger M. Evangelista, each carrying a .45 cal. and .40 cal. pistol, respectively. Also seized from the suspects were six magazines and 30 rounds of live ammunition.
Regional Police Director Ramon Apolinario said police personnel had been deployed in Puerto Galera since last week to enforce election laws for the conduct of an honest, orderly and peaceful elections in the province on May 9.
Deputy RPSB battalion commander, Superintendent Manzano, barred the entry of newsmen from the RPSB camp in Barangay Poblacion to interview the six suspects. Manzano told newsmen that the latter must secure clearance from either Director Apolinario and Superintendent Frias first before entering the police camp.
“It’s unusual for the PNP officials to deny us our right to interview suspects involved in election-related crimes,” local media practitioners said.
The Oriental Mindoro media appealed to PNP Chief, Director-General Ricardo Marquez, to open all police camps to local newsmen to avoid suspicion of a whitewash of crimes allegedly violated by suspects in the conduct of local election.
Some local candidates have been calling and texting newsmen to “kill the stories relating to suspects caught in violation of the Comelec gun ban.”
The hotly-contested local election here is being contested by siblings, Mrs. Estrellita Dolor, and her younger brother, former Mayor Aristeo Atienza, and Sabang Bgy. Chairman Rockey Ilagan, standard bearer of the opposition Nationalist People’s Coalition.
Mrs. Dolor, a retired public school teacher, is the mother of outgoing Puerto Galera Mayor Hubbert Dolor and re-electionist Oriental Mindoro Vice-Governor Humerlito Dolor, of the administration Liberal Party.