Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Aviation Security Group arrests Albay mayor at Naia for violating firearms ban

THE Aviation Security Group (ASG) assigned at the premier airport yesterday prevented the mayor of Malinao, Albay, from boarding his plane after he was found to be in possession of a caliber 45 pistol with a bogus Commission on Election, (Comelec) gun exemption.

P/SSupt. Napoleon Lim Cuaton, the chief of the National Capital Region aviation police, said Mayor Avelino Ceriola surrendered his gun upon entering Terminal 2 while on his way to board Philippine Airlines (PAL) flight PR 277 bound for Legaspi City.

The ASG authorities immediately subjected the gun for verification with the Comelec. However, the election body said Ceriola was not on their list of persons given the authority to bear or transport the firearm in connection with the May 10 elections.

Cuaton informed Ceriola of the Comelec’s findings and immediately placed the latter under arrest.

Ceriola is now confined at the ASG headquarters while waiting to be brought to the Pasay City Fiscal’s Office for inquest.

Ceriola becomes part of more than 1,000 individuals who violated the election gun ban since the prohibition was enforced, according to the Philippine National Police (PNP).

PNP spokesman Supt. Leonardo Espina said that so far, the number of gun-ban violators has numbered 1,376, most (1,212) were civilians while the rest (164) were state employees.

To date, the PNP has recovered 1,187 firearms, 800 air guns and replica guns, 328 bladed weapons, and 224 grenades and explosives.

The latest to be apprehended were 15 individuals, 14 of them civilians, whose firearms and weapons were confiscated by authorities on March 10.

Espina said a total of seven firearms, one air gun and five bladed weapons were seized from the gun-ban violators.

Last December the Comelec issued Resolution 1814, which recalled the permits of all gun holders, including private individuals acting as security aides of politicians.

The ban does not cover members of the police, the military and other law-enforcement agencies who are on duty.

The directive, which will be in effect from Jan. 10 to June 9, is intended to minimize violence during the campaign period leading to the May 10 polls.

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