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Ronda officials yield 100 firearms

Loose firearms in Ronda are now down by at least a hundred after town and barangay officials voluntarily surrendered them to the authorities. For the police, this signals renewed hope for peace in a town that had been previously tagged as a “trouble hotspot.” Kristine Joyce W. Campaña

CEBU, Philippines — Officials in Ronda town, southern Cebu, including the mayor and vice mayor, turned over more than a hundred unlicensed firearms in what was perhaps the biggest mass surrender of loose guns by local executives yesterday.

Among those who tendered their unlicensed firearms were Mayor Mariano Blanco III, Vice Mayor Jonah John Ungab, barangay captains, councilors, and other government officials.

Blanco, as a local chief executive, can carry a gun but chose to surrender his two M16 rifles and one shotgun. Ungab, for his part, turned over his M14 rifle and .45 caliber pistol to the authorities.

Superintendent Joie Pacito Yape, chief of Provincial Intelligence Branch and concurrently the officer-in-charge for Ronda police, flaunted the success of the Oplan Paglalansag in the town as he welcomed the overwhelming support of local officials from the municipal down to the barangay level.

Ronda, located about 90 kilometers from Cebu City, was previously tagged as a “trouble spot,” especially during elections.

Blanco admitted that the conflict was deeply rooted in the town. He explained that in the mid ‘90s, his kin from both sides, the Torreses and Omboys, were embroiled in family and political disagreements, which had dragged on until the present.

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“Ang usa gahimo og grupo, ang usa gahimo pud og grupo. Og magkaabot sa bukid, gyera. Wa may laing tao naapil. Kaliwat-kaliwat ra sila,” Blanco said.

As officials yielded their guns yesterday, a certain Jerrick “A-ay” Torres, who is said to be the leader of a group in conflict with the Omboys and an alleged hitman in the town, also voluntarily surrendered to the police.

Torres said he will stop causing trouble with the other group headed by Francisco Omboy.

“Dili nako manghilabot ni Jekjek (Francisco). Ang gusto nako nga malinaw na ang among pagpuyo kay pait kaayo ning gipangita ta sa balaod, wala tay mahimo ana,” said Torres.

Torres also surrendered a .30 caliber machine gun and a .45 caliber pistol.

Yape said they also encouraged Francisco to surrender to end the feud between the two families, whose conflict has reportedly caused many killings in Ronda.

Francisco’s mother, Lita Omboy, who was at the police station when Torres surrendered to police, said that his son told her that he would also surrender if Torres does.

“Karon wala pa siya mo-surrender pero akong paninguhaon nga siya mo-surrender. Kay ni-surrender naman si A-ay kay mao man ang iyang ingon nga kung mo-surrender si A-ay, mo-surrender pud siya. As soon as possible, ako siyang ikumbinsir,” said Lita.

With Torres having yielded and Francisco following suit, Yape and the local government executives in Ronda are hoping that peace will finally prevail in their town.

In the town’s war against illegal drugs, some 523 individuals yesterday promised not to touch a grain of any illegal substance. These drug surrenderers just finished an intervention program for a month that included rigorous spiritual and physical healing, a first in the town.

Yape said part of the driving force to clear Ronda of any form of illegalities was the marching orders of President Duterte.

Yape hopes that other police stations would replicate Ronda’s initiative in clearing their own area of loose firearms, illegal drugs, and illegal gambling.

Meanwhile, the barangay captain of General Climaco, Toledo City was nabbed in a raid in his business establishment in Barangay Cambag-ug on Wednesday morning.

Barangay Captain Antonio Canonigo yielded one unit of New Cobra Sarsilmaz shotgun, one unit of .9mm caliber pistol, two magazines for .9mm, and assorted ammunition.

The raid was conducted by the operatives of Regional Special Operations Group-7, Regional Police Drug Enforcement Unit, and Provincial Public Safety Company.

It was made possible by virtue of a search warrant issued by Judge Jerry Dicdican of Regional Trial Court Branch 25 in Danao City.

Also arrested during the raid were Ceperino Sanchez, 48, and Victor Cabusas, 36.

Sanchez and Cabusas each yielded a .45 caliber pistol with magazine and ammunition. (FREEMAN)

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