Raps up vs Lambunao village chief, tanods

TWELVE barangay tanods or village watchmen (left photo) were arrested for brandishing firearms in Lambunao, Iloilo shortly before midnight of May 12, 2019. The tanods headed by Barangay Captain Milky Lira, a supporter of mayoral bet Reynor Gonzales, mounted a checkpoint at Jayobo village. Lira left his Nissan Patrol SUV (license plate (XMS-397) as he escaped the police officers.

THE Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) said it will file charges against a barangay captain and members of the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team (BPAT) who were arrested for brandishing assorted firearms shortly before midnight of May 12, 2019.

Police Brigadier General John Bulalacao, Western Visayas police chief, said the Iloilo Police Provincial Office (IPPO) is now preparing charges against Barangay Captain Milky Lira and at least 12 BPAT members or barangay tanods.

They will be charged for violation of Republic Act 10591 (Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Act) and the Omnibus Election Code.

An administrative case will also be field against Lira before the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Police responded to reports that Lira and more than 30 men were wantonly displaying their firearms in Lambunao, Iloilo. 

But Lira and around 21 other tanod managed to elude arrest and left behind Remegio Libuna, 59; Jose Lavente, 62, Robert Cabolico, 53; Johny Lebuna, Jr., 34; Elmer Legarde, 43; Bernarbe Larroza, 35; Sunny Boy Latoza, 49; Ernesto Legarde, 56; Carlos Esmaya, 64; Ernesto Lastimoso, 58; Federico Compliza, 48;  and Johny Lebuna, Sr., 57.

Recovered from the arrested suspects were six homemade 12-gauge shotguns, three caliber .45 pistols, a caliber .38 revolver, a caliber .22 revolver, a caliber .30 (break-type) revolver, and 72 assorted ammunition.

Members of the Lambunao Police Station, Iloilo Police Provincial Office (IPPO) Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team, and IPPO Special Operations Group (SOG) were initiallytold that the suspects set up their own checkpoint in the area.

Jayobo is more than 20 kilometers from the town proper and is considered a vote-rich village.

It keeps around 115 tanod and has at least 35 tanod roving per shift.

Police Major Rene Obregon, Lambunao police chief, said the arrested tanods claimed that the checkpoint is for them to protect their villagers from being harassed by the “other camp.”

According to reports, Lira is an ally of mayor-elect Reynor Gonzales.

A retired police general, Gonzales served as Lambunao’s mayor for three terms until 2016 when his son, Jayson, succeeded his post.

Lira allegedly wanted to deliver a win for Gonzales by preventing other camps from campaigning at Jayobo. He left behind his Nissan Patrol SUV (license plate XMS-397) at the checkpoint area.

The police secured a search warrant and checked the vehicle at around 6:30 p.m. of May 13.

They recovered two baby Armalite rifles, a caliber .45 pistol, a caliber .9mm pistol, a homemade 12-gauge shotgun, and several ammunition.

Bulalacao said that Lira has no right to possess a firearm as his License to Own and Possess Firearm (LTOPF) already expired.