LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Twenty-six year old Gerald Versola Valera, a resident of zone 3, Bangued, Abra’s capital town and an alleged gun for hire, surrendered himself to police, said Cordillera police director Chief Supt. Benjamin Magalong.
Valera was reportedly an active member of the “Tandingan Guayen Group”, which has been contracting gun-for-hire operations.
Valera’s surrender came following the action of Tineg town mayoralty bet Cromwell Luna, a scion of the controversial and sometimes “feared” Luna political clan in Abra, to turn in his alleged assassin to policemen last week after a dialogue.
Luna showed up to a police station with 29-year old Sanny Lanag Billong, who is allegedly tagged as a “trouble maker” in his own village in a remote hinterland barangay Alaoa in Tineg.
Luna is contesting incumbent mayor Edwin Crisologo in Tineg, tagged as “perennially bothered by violence in and out of elections” in Abra.
The second assassin –Valera – according to police has a pending case with the Regional Trial Court Branch 1, Bangued for violating the gun ban in 2010.
He has posted bail but is still under the custody of the Abra police.
The Cordillera police reiterated its appeal for help in tracking down PAG members by encouraging the public to give information to police about these guns for hire, while assuring tipsters the information will be treated with utmost confidentiality.
Authorities have also stepped up their drive against illegal and even legal guns to guarantee the conduct of secure and free elections in May
Cordillera police deputy regional director for administration Senior Superintendent Roberto Soriano, who is also the concurrent commander of the Regional Special Operations Task Group (ROSTG), said they are checking if the licensed firearms of incumbent local officials and aspirants for various elected positions have registered their guns outside the province.
“We are elated that many incumbent local officials and candidates for various elective positions in the province are submitting their licensed guns for muzzle taping which is part of our unrelenting efforts to account for the over 800 declared loose firearms and the over 1,800 firearms whose permits were not renewed by their owners,” Soriano said.
Last week, at least 31 high- and low-powered firearms were turned in by incumbent local officials and candidates for various elective posts for muzzle taping.
According to Soriano, the taped firearms of individuals will be returned to them but law enforcers will frequently conduct surprise inspection of the licensed firearms in order to determine whether or not such firearms were fired by the owners during the election period.
Politicians and candidates in Abra have turned in 130 licensed firearms to the Abra police as part of the disarmament in the province ahead of the polls. The firearms were deposited for safe-keeping and muzzle taped and will only be released to their owners after the May polls.
“As the conduct of the elections is fast approaching, instructions are given to our police units to intensify the conduct of more activities that will ensure the surrender or arrest of the remaining PAG members being maintained by politicians particularly in Abra,” Magalong said. – Artemio A. Dumlao