Ex-Army soldier arrested over cache of firearm, 5 grenades

A concerned citizen’s complaint to the PNO’s E-Sumbong hotline led local police to arrest a dismissed Army soldier for possession of a firearm, five hand grenades and various ammunition in his house in San Vicente, Virac last week.

Joint elements from the Virac police station, the Catanduanes Provincial Intelligence Unit (PIU), and the Catanduanes Provincial Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Canine Unit (PECU) apprehended Jerry Docina Flores, 34, a native of Iloilo province, last July 13, 2021, after serving on him a search warrant issued by the Regional Trial Court for violation of Republic Acts 10591 (Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act) and RA 9516 (Imposing Stiffer Penalties on the illegal possession of firearms, ammunition or explosives, among others).

According to a source, Flores was carrying a Cal. 45 pistol at the time, with the explosives and ammunition found inside his house.

These included two magazines, 27 Cal. 45 bullets, five magazines with 81 bullets for Cal. 5.56mm rifle, a 5.56mm link with 22 bullets, six bullets for a 9mm pistol, five M84 fragmentation grenades with cases, and a cartridge and case for a 40mm high explosive round.

Investigation disclosed that the suspect served for about 12 years as an Army corporal before he was dismissed from the service. He had probably acquired the weapons and ammunition cache while with his unit.

A concerned citizen reportedly used the PNP E-Sumbong service to inform the local police of Flores’ hoard, with operatives acting quickly to thwart any untoward incident that could occur with the use of the weapons and explosives.

He is now detained at the Virac police station pending the filing of appropriate charges against him and further investigation of whether the firearm had been used in any criminal incident.

Virac police chief Major Antonio Perez said the campaign against loose firearms is one of the priorities of the station as it tries to account for licensed guns to prevent their being used in crimes. He appealed to the public and gun owners to voluntarily surrender their firearms with expired licenses for proper disposition.

Meanwhile, PNP Bicol regional director Brig. Gen. Jonnel Estomo lauded the operatives who led the apprehension of Flores for their support to the regional command’s Intensified Cleanliness Policy.

“The PNP Bicol continues its advocacy to clean the communities of any threat of criminality,” he said. “That is why we are pursuing this engagement with the public so they can bring to the police stations any information that would help bring about peaceful and orderly towns.”

A resident of the barangay alleged that Flores, who reportedly went absent without leave, arrived last April and never left since then. He is married to a local teacher, who is pregnant with their second child.

Under Section 1 of RA 9516, which amended Presidential Decree 1866, the unlawful possession of an explosive or incendiary device such as a hand grenade, rifle grenade, pillbox bomb, Molotov cocktail, fire bomb and similar devices could be sentenced to the penalty of reclusion perpetua.

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