Abaca stripper guilty of illegal possession of firearm, explosive

The Regional Trial Court last week found an abaca stripper from Bagamanoc guilty of illegal possession of firearm, ammunition and explosive seized during a search of his house in 2021.

RTC Branch 42 Presiding Judge Genie G. Gapas-Agbada sentenced Ramel Andes Pelagio, also known as “Ramil Pelagio,” to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, or at least 30 years imprisonment, for possession of a rifle grenade in violation of Section 3 of Republic Act 9516.

He was also found liable for illegal possession of a Cal. 38 revolver without serial number and loaded with six live bullets including a misfired ammo, and seven 5.56mm NATO ammunition, for which he was sentenced to imprisonment of 10 to 12 years.

Information filed before the Court stated that the Bagamanoc police received a report that Pelagion was seen in possession of a firearm in barangay Salvacion, which was subsequently verified.

Armed with a search warrant, the police went to the house of the accused at 9:30 PM of May 30, 2021 and in the presence of his brother as well as barangay officials, searched his house.

Inside the bedroom, the police found a small white sack covered by a pillow which, when opened, contained a Cal. 38 revolver loaded with six live ammunition, seven 5.56mm bullets and one rifle grenade.

In his defense, Pelagio denied the crimes charges against him and that as a mere abaca stripper, he could not afford to own the items seized by the police.

The Court noted that the accused admitted that the house that was the subject of the search warrant was his and that he was inside his house during the time the firearm, ammunitions and explosives were found.

His lack of authority to possess the firearm was established by the memoranda from the Catanduanes Police Provincial Office and the PNP Firearms and Explosives Office that he is not a firearm holder.

Judge Gapas-Agbada stressed that Pelagio’s claim that police operatives entered and searched his house prior to the implementation of search warrant is unavailing and belied by his own testimony.

Likewise, she stated, his argument that the seized explosive is inadmissible in evidence because it was not mentioned in the search warrant is bereft of merit.

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