PNP chief General Benjie Acorda this week praised members of the PNP Headquarters Support Service for intercepting a car carrying 15 firearms inside Camp Crame with its drive failing to present any gun ban exemption from the Commission on Elections.
The top cop said that the discovery of the 11 semi-automatic pistols and four 12-gauge shotguns came amid the instruction he gave to new PNP-HSS director Colonel Antonio Marallag Jr. to ensure that all motor vehicles entering Camp Crame will be subjected to a strict check to prevent the possibility they may be carrying contrabands including illegal weapons and explosives.
The random checks being made on vehicles-with or without decals or passcards-entering the PNP National Headquarters-is a must to prevent terrorists or any other lawless elements from smuggling any materials-whether they are guns, drugs, IEDs or bombs—that could be used to embarrass the PNP leadership.
The strict checks were launched in particular in the aftermath of the Jee Ick-Yoo case in 2017 in which a group of car-riding rogue officers from the now disbanded PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group went to their headquarters with the abducted South Korean businessman before strangling him to death just a few meters away from the PNP-NHQ.
Last Tuesday, base policemen manning Camp Crame’s Gate 1 in EDSA stumbled upon the weapons which have turned out to be belonging to a private security agency said to be owned by a retired police general.
It was really a case of a ‘wrong person at the wrong time’ since the driver of the car who happened to be a retired police officer thought that officers manning Gate 1 won’t ask him to open his trunk.
When he did, the base policemen were surprised to see the weapons in plain view and quickly called their superiors to help them investigate the case.
The driver of the car is now facing ‘non-bailable charges’ for violation of the nationwide gun ban under the Omnibus Election Code and Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulations Act of 2013. He was placed under the custody of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.
I was told that the went to Camp Crame to have coffee with some former colleagues. Following the incident, the PNP Supervisory Office for Security and Investigation placed the concerned security agency under investigation for violation of SOSIA and FEO rules when it comes to the transport of firearms especially during the gun ban period.
The security agency faces the prospect of having its license revoked for committing the major infraction during the gun ban period. I do believe that the base policemen who intercepted those guns must each be given a medal by the PNP leadership for their feat.
MARALLAG REPLACES DE LIMA ‘SAVIOR’
I’m referring to Col. Marallag’s predecessor, my friend, Brigadier Gen. Mark Pespes, a member of PNP Academy ‘Tagapaglunsad’ Class of 1993 who will be forever known in Philippine history as the man who saved the life of detained former senator Leila de Lima from the hands of a knife-wielding extremist.
Marallag was the erstwhile Deputy Regional Director for Administration of the Police Regional Office 1 in Ilocos-Pangasinan region before he was designated by Gen. Acorda as the new Camp Crame commander last Monday. The new PNP-HSS director is one of the youngest members of PNPA ‘Sandigan’ Class of 1994 as he will retire on May 18, 2027. He is set to earn his star-rank at the PNP-HSS after failing to get the rank during his stint at the PRO1.
I also expect that Brig. Gen. Pespes, a silent and unassuming official who commanded the PNP-HSS for 13 long months will be soon getting a new position of major responsibility owing to his service to the nation. What i mean is a position much higher than his present post as PNP Deputy Director for Intelligence.
Brig. Gen. Pespes has been hailed as a ‘hero’ for saving de Lima from an extremist about to kill the former lawmaker. The newly-designated no. 2 man of the PNP-DI has been cited for his outstanding work as Camp Crame commander, supervising all efforts by the PNP-HSS to enforce all camp rules and regulations and at the same time beautify the PNP national headquarters.
He and six other PNP-HSS personnel were given the PNP Medalya ng Kadakilaan for successfully rescuing de Lima from one of three captured extremists who tried to bolt the maximum-security custodial facility on October 9, 2022.
Brig. Gen. Pespes and his men were given the medal ‘for their noteworthy acts of heroism, duty during the successful rescue of Atty. Leila de Lima who was held hostage by high-profile Persons Under Police Custody which resulted in an armed encounter and neutralization of the three hostage-takers,” the award said.
Still a Police Colonel at that time, Pespes did not hesitate to shoot hostage-taker Feliciano Sulayao, a jailed Dawlah Islamiyah member in the head when he saw the opportunity as the suspect was then already threatening to kill the ex-senator.
“He is the hero because he initiated the negotiation and took advantage of a situation to neutralize the hostage taker,” Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Benhur’Abalos Jr. said.
“Col. Pespes showed decisiveness. He assessed the situation, bought time, and then when the opportunity was presented, he shot the hostage taker and saved Sen. de Lima,” the DILG chief added.
Pespes negotiated with Sulayao for about 15 minutes before he realized the gravity of the situation. “The former senator’s life was already in danger so we need to end the situation,” said the veteran PNP Special Action Force officer.
I really believe that Pespes’ act not only saved the life of de Lima but most importantly, saved the Marcos administration and the PNP leadership then under Gen. Jun Azurin from a major international backlash had something bad really happened to the former lawmaker.
For their feat, Brig. Gen. Pespes and his men, Patrolman Lorenze Ian Matias, Chief Master Sergeant Jimmy Ferrez and Corporal Rizza Pagaduan and three members of the PNP-SAF detailed with the PNP-HSS identified as Captain Michael Gobway, MSgt. Denver Lou Ngo-oc and Cpl. Marvin Banigon were awarded the PNP medal.
It was Matias who shot the two other inmates identified as Arnel Cabintoy, a detained member of the Dawlah Islamiyah and Idang Susukan, a hardcore Abu Sayyaf member after they stabbed an HSS guard, Corporal Roger Agustin who was delivering the prisoners’ meal while Pagaduan immediately locked the main exit gate to block the suspects’ escape route.
After Sulayao demanded for a helicopter, a vehicle, the media and later a glass of water, Col. Pespes managed to shoot the latter after he threatened to kill de Lima. Even former PNP chief and senator, now Citizen ‘Ping Lacson praised the police force for its actions on the incident citing “the swift and decisive response undertaken by the PNP” during the foiled hostage-taking incident.