PNP to investigate 'weapons training mishap' in Ilocos cop school

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
PNP to investigate 'weapons training mishap' in Ilocos cop school
Photo shows members of the Philippine National Police deployed in Manila amid COVID-19 threat.
The STAR / Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police is conducting an internal investigation into the firing incident that wounded a police instructor and his trainee, its chief disclosed Wednesday.

In a statement sent to reporters, Police Gen. Dionardo Carlos said he sought a review of policy on weapons training to prevent similar incidents in police training courses involving live-fire exercises.

“If accidents like this can happen in training even under controlled conditions, it is likely to happen anytime during the course of normal police functions involving firearms and live ammunition,” Carlos said.

Carlos, himself a qualified firearms instructor and weapons specialist reminded cops that “the firearm is standard police equipment that must be handled only by properly trained personnel with updated training certification on firearms proficiency and safety.”

What happened?

Based on initial reports, Police Cpl. Benie Dupayat, 32, was holding a lecture on Basic Parts of Firearms and Gun Safety Rules to police trainees of Bravo Company of “Mahigmayan” Class undergoing Public Safety Basic Recruit Course at around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Andres Bonifacio Room of Police Regional Office-1 Traning Center in Brgy. Poblacion, Aringay, La Union.

According to the investigation report of Aringay Municipal Police Station, Dupayat was demonstrating to police trainees the operating functions of a .45 caliber pistol when the demo gun "malfunctioned" and discharged a round that went through the palm of Dupayat’s hand and hit a trainee, Police Patrolman John Conrad Villanueva, 23, in the thigh.

Both injured personnel were brought to the Caba District Hospital for medical treatment. 

“We remind our instructors to ensure safety at all times, in this case, foremost, no loaded firearms and live ammunition inside the classroom even for training purposes," Carlos said Wednesday.

Carlos emphasized that “safety is paramount in weapons training and every instructor must not fall behind this primary consideration."

Not the first time

Earlier in September, a delivery rider in Tondo, Manila was shot after a police officer, supposedly his friend, was playing around with his service firearm that went off and hit the driver.

The victim, 31-year-old Jason Capistrano, was declared dead at the Chinese General Hospital two hours after the incident.

Among the cardinal rules of gun safety, according to groups like the National Rifle Association of America, is to always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction. 

Then-PNP chief Guillermo Eleazar also stressed that there should be high standards for gun safety within the police organization.

Eleazar, who is now running for senator under Partido Reporma, said he ordered the regular conduct of gun safety and marksmanship training for all PNP uniformed personnel, especially those assigned on the ground, adding that "the standard on gun safety and shooting skills must be high for police personnel."

“I have already issued a directive for the regular conduct of gun safety and marksmanship training purposely to avoid cases like this. May this be a lesson to gun owners, especially to the police, that they are not toys and should never brag about having a gun,” he said then.

"As policemen, owning and carrying a gun is part of the trust given by our countrymen to use it for protection and not to persecute them," he added.

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