ILLEGAL firearms hidden in rubber boots were intercepted by operatives of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) 7 in Barangay Poblacion, Tabuelan yesterday dawn.
Senior Supt. Marlon Tayaba, CIDG 7 director, said the 17 .9mm pistols, three shotguns and 31 .38 revolvers reportedly came from a security agency based in Cebu City.
These were allegedly being delivered to Negros, Guimaras, Iloilo, Antique, Capiz and Aklan.
Some 400 bullets for .38 revolvers and 12 shells for shotguns were also confiscated.
Tayaba said they arrested Pablo Biabado, Mario Lamoste and Noel Abarquez, who failed to show permits from the the Firearms, Explosives, Security Agencies and Guards Supervision (Fessags) 7 and Commission on Elections (Comelec) to transport the firearms.
“We are still investigating to identify the real owner,” he said. “The three persons we have arrested have not divulged anything to us.”
The police official said they are investigating the source of the contraband that, had these not been confiscated, could have ended up with armed groups of politicians running in the May elections.
Most of the firearms, worth around P500,000, were marked “Arms Corp. (Armscor) of the Philippines.”
But Joel Concepcion, Armscor representative, told reporters that the guns seized by the police were sub-par compared to the ones they manufacture.
“It’s a far cry from our product,” he said.
He will report the incident to the Armscor management, which will be the one to decide whether or not to press charges against whoever made those guns.
Tayaba said the team coordinated with Tabuelan Police Station and Regional Public Safety Battalion to set up a checkpoint, after receiving information about the transport of illegal firearms.
Investigators will check if the guns came from Danao City, where gun-making is an established trade.
Tayaba said they will also file charges against the three persons they arrested.
Biabado told reporters he was just hired to drive the truck.
Lamoste and Abarquez claimed they are security guards, but both failed to present any proof.
During the election period, lawyer Ferdinand Gujilde of Comeloec said, a person who wants to carry a gun for protection, especially if he or she has received a death threat, must secure a Certification of Authority from the poll body.
The election period for the May 9 election is from Jan. 10 to June 8, 2016.
Gujilde, who is also a law professor of the University of San Carlos, said that if those arrested by the police yesterday failed to present any authority from Comelec, they may be prosecuted for violating the election gun ban.
They can be prosecuted under Section 32 of Republic Act 7166 and Section 1, paragraph A of Comelec Resolution 10015.
He said that the penalty if a person is found guilty of this violation is one to six years’ imprisonment, without probation.