Firearms on the loose

DUMAGUETE CITY — At least six persons were arrested in Canlaon City, Negros Oriental over the weekend as police continued its intensified drive against the proliferation of loose and illegal firearms.

The latest to fall was identified as Erwin Masaba Esguerra, 46, a resident of Mansalanao in La Castellana, Negros Occidental.

A report from the Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office (NOPPO) said Esguerra was arrested during a police checkpoint along the national highway in Barangay Linothangan at around 10:30 a.m. Sunday.

Confiscated from the suspect were one .45-caliber pistol, 14 rounds of live ammunition of caliber .45, one magazine, and one Honda XRM 125 motorcycle without attached plate.

In separate operations Friday, the Canlaon City Police also arrested five other suspects for alleged illegal possession of firearms and ammunition via the service of search warrants.

They were identified as Aldrin Estilloso Bellesa, 47, of Sitio Inayawan, Barangay Linothangan; John Mark Flores Ballao, 29, resident of Sitio Mananawin, Barangay Masulog; Lencio Necesito Deles, also of Masulog; Julesis Estilloso Bellesa and Ferdinand Estilloso Bellesa, both residents of Sitio Inayawan, Barangay Linothangan, all in the said city.

Confiscated from Aldrin Bellesa were one .45- caliber pistol, four magazines and 41 rounds of live ammunition for the same caliber, one inside holster, one magazine pouch, assorted identification cards, and a belt bag.

From Ballao, the operatives seized one .45-caliber pistol, one magazine with seven rounds of live ammunition of the same caliber, a black holster, and one CIDG (Criminal Investigation and Detection Group) Letter Order.

Deles, on the other hand, yielded one .45-caliber pistol, one magazine with seven rounds of live ammunition, one black holster and two pieces of identification cards bearing the logo of the CIDG.

Police recovered from Julesis Bellesa one .357- caliber revolver without serial number, five rounds of live ammunition for caliber .38, and a sling bag, and from Ferdinand Bellesa, one .45-caliber pistol, one magazine, 15 rounds of live ammunition and a sling bag.

NOPPO spokesperson, Chief M/Sgt. Edilberto Euraoba III said that the Canlaon City Police Station, CIDG and the Provincial Intelligence Branch of the NOPPO carried out the police operations.

He said it was the third round of the so-called Synchronized Managing of Police Operations or SEMPO, which was previously carried out in Negros Oriental last March and in December 2018.

Both SEMPO operations focused on illegal/loose firearms in Negros Oriental were undertaken by the Police Regional Office 7 with a number of the subjects of the search warrants killed for allegedly resisting arrest and engaging the police officers in an exchange of fire. (By Mary Judaline Partlow – PNA)