Gun ban imposed in Negros Oriental

Police and military troopers man a checkpoint in Barangay Nagbo-alao, Basay, Negros Oriental Friday, March 10. (Photo courtesy of Basay Municipal Police Staton)

By Glazyl Y. Masculino

BACOLOD City – The Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office (Norppo) announced on Friday, March 10, the implementation of a gun ban in the province.

The ban was imposed a week after Governor Roel Degamo and eight others were killed in a gun attack at his residence in Pamplona town on March 4. Seventeen others were wounded in the shooting incident.

In a Facebook post that was later deleted, the provincial police office said that “all permits to carry a firearm outside residence (PTCFOR) is hereby suspended in Negros Oriental until further notice.”

Only a member of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and other law enforcement agencies who are performing official duties and in agency-prescribed uniforms will be allowed to carry firearms, the Norppo said.

A day after Negros Oriental third district rep. Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. was tagged by one of the four arrested suspects as the alleged mastermind in the incident, the Philippine National Police (PNP)-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) raided some of his houses and properties in the province on March 10.

Based on reports, the operation led to the seizure of a hand grenade, several pistols, and ammunition. No update yet was provided about the raid.

Teves is currently in the United States of America (USA) for medical reasons, according to his legal counsel Atty. Ferdinand Topacio.

In a statement, House Speaker Martin Romualdez advised Teves to come back to the Philippines as soon as possible. “His authority to travel to the United States is covered only by the period Feb. 28 to March 9, 2023. Clearly, the travel authority of Rep. Teves has expired effective today,” Romualdez said, adding that his travel outside the country beyond the period mentioned is no longer authorized by the House of Representatives.

“Makabubuti na rin na umuwi si Cong. Arnie para harapin ang pagkakadawit ng pangalan ng kanilang pamilya sa pagkamatay ni Gov. Roel Degamo,” Romualdez said.

He said that they all want to hear his side of the story. “Maraming buhay ang nawala maliban kay Gov. Degamo. Umamin na ang mga nahuling salarin sa partisipasyon nila sa krimen,” he added.

“Hindi titigil ang pamahalaan para kilalanin at papanagutin ang mga nasa likod ng brutal na krimeng ito,” he also said.

In a media interview, the camp of Teves, through their legal spokesperson Atty. Rommel Erames, said that the family members in the province were afraid for their security after he was dragged into the issue.

The Police Regional Office (PRO) – Central Visayas, in an earlier statement, said “the declarations made publicly earlier by one of the suspects in the killing of Degamo were information that we already acquired from the moment we arrested the four suspects, six hours from the incident.”

The regional police office said that when they forwarded the case for inquest, they already had the complete picture of what transpired before, during, and after the incident, including the identities of the suspects, including the alleged mastermind. Criminal charges have been filed against the four suspects and 12 “John Does.”

Teves has yet to comment on the said allegations against him.

Meanwhile, the Visayas Command of the Philippine Army assured its full support to the PNP and the local government in stabilizing the peace and order situation in Negros Oriental.

Lieutenant General Benedict Arevalo, Army Visayas Command commander, in a statement, said that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. ordered them during his visit at Degamo’s wake in Dumaguete City last Wednesday to assist and provide the necessary support in order to stabilize the peace and order situation in the province.

Arevalo said that AFP personnel will be deployed to support the PNP in their law enforcement operation so as to apprehend the remaining suspects and bring them to justice.

Likewise, in coordination with our PNP counterpart, checkpoints and security patrols will be conducted in order to prevent any incident of such nature from ever happening again, he added.