THE Malabon City police said Monday that the 15-year-old girl who was hit by a bullet in the head while watching fireworks during the New Year's Eve was a victim of deliberate shooting.

Malabon police chief investigator Dennis Javier said that based on their investigation, Emilene Villanueva was shot by an unidentified gunman targeting another person.

The supposed target told the police that instead of him being shot by the assailant, they went to Villanueva since he ran near from where the victim was after noticing that he was being targeted.

Villanueva remains in a coma at the intensive care unit of the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center (JRMMC) in Manila.

JRMMC officer Dr. Monica Ang said they cannot proceed yet with the surgery to remove the bullet that penetrated Villanueva's skull due to her critical condition.

Meanwhile, Malabon City police deputy administrator Superintendent Ariel Fulo explained that the bullet in Villanueva's head was positioned vertically, consistent with the assumption that she was looking down on her cellphone when she was shot.

"Meron nang identity kaya lang siguro hino-hold lang namin kasi nagco-conduct pa rin kami ng operation para kung sakali ay mahuli namin yung tao na yun," he said, adding that according to the supposed target, the gunman wanted him dead due to their long-standing quarrel.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) recorded 12 cases of stray bullet nationwide as of January 1 with one fatality.

It said 15 persons, including a policeman and a soldier, were arrested due to alleged indiscriminate firing, while 13 people, including four policemen, were under investigation for the same offense.

According to National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Director Oscar Albayalde, the arrested policeman was identified as Police Officer 1 Daniel Castillo assigned at the Manila Police District station 1.

"Wala naman siyang natamaan but just the same he will be charged," Albayalde said.

Earlier, PNP chief Ronald Dela Rosa warned cops of possible relief if they will be involved in indiscriminate firing.

Dela Rosa said the entire holiday season was generally peaceful.

"Overall, the entire holiday season has been generally peaceful with no serious untoward incidents reported by the Police Regional Offices," he said. (Sunnex)