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PNP: Search for loose firearms will continue

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PNP Chief, Director General Alan LM Purisima. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—And the search goes on.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) will continue to look for over 400,000 loose firearms all over the country even after the election gun ban ends on June 12.

PNP Director General Alan Purisima said the police had been able to account for more than 200,000 unlicensed guns since the PNP Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO) launched a crackdown on loose firearms dubbed “Oplan Katok.”

“The lifting of the gun ban… will not be the end of the aggressive campaign against loose firearms,” Purisima told reporters last week.

“We may be gradually shifting to normal law enforcement functions, but the Filipino people can only expect an invigorated operation against wanted persons, crime and loose firearms,” he said.

Purisima expressed concern after the FEO discovered that thousands of gun owners were able to secure firearm licenses in the past several years using bogus addresses in their applications.

This prompted the FEO to implement a door-to-door delivery of firearm licenses to ensure that the addresses the gun owners listed in their applications were genuine.

“We were alarmed by that so we immediately started implementing corrective measures. That is now being addressed and we are confident we will be able to account for all of them [unlicensed firearms] in due time,” Purisima said.

“Our Oplan Katok, along with other loose gun-related operations, will continue until we are able to reduce the number of loose firearms to an insignificant figure in the soonest possible time,” he said.

As of August 2012, the FEO said the owners of more than 610,000 guns had failed to renew their firearm permits, making them liable for charges of illegal possession of firearms.

The figure did not include guns that were never registered with the FEO since they were either smuggled into the country or illegally manufactured.

The PNP had issued gun licenses to nearly 1.2 million individuals and juridical entities as of last year, the FEO said.

The police started an aggressive crackdown on loose firearms after 7-year-old Stephanie Nicole Ella was killed by celebratory gunfire in Caloocan City last New Year’s Eve.

Days later, a drug-crazed man armed with an unlicensed .45-cal. pistol went berserk, shooting dead eight of his neighbors in Kawit, Cavite, without provocation.

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