PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — POLICE remained on heightened alert yesterday and although there was a generally peaceful situation nationwide, authorities said they have recorded several firecracker-related injuries and shooting incidents involving some men in uniform, gun-holders with itchy fingers and rogue Moro Islamic Liberation Front guerrillas.
Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque Jr. said that as of yesterday, they have recorded a 12 percent reduction in cases of firecracker- related injuries compared to the figure in 2007. However, he said, they have accounted for at least three victims of stray bullets, one victim of “watusi” ingestion and 132 victims of exploding firecrackers and pyrotechnics.
Philippine National Police chief, Director General Jesus A. Verzosa said they are continuously monitoring the situation in the country and has ordered all police regional offices and national support units not to let their guards down and keep their 24-hour alert to help protect the public.
An official PNP report on “Iwas Paputok. Disgrasya” during the Yuletide and Special Holiday Season as of yesterday showed that 19 people have been arrested for violation of the firecrackers law. Police have also seized over P50,000 worth of banned pyrotechnics and firecracker products from the suspects.
The PNP report said that as of Dec. 16 to yesterday, 87 people have been injured and five fire incidents have been recorded as a result of careless handling of firecrackers.
Seventy-four of those injured came from Metro Manila, 10 from Central Visayas and three in Caraga Region. Two of the fires sparked by firecrackers were each recorded in Mimaropa Region and Eastern Visayas and the fifth in Central Visayas destroying more than P1 million worth of properties.
In Caloocan City, a police corporal was shot and killed by a colleague in front of his house in Maypajo area 6:40 p.m. Tuesday.
National Capital Region Police Office chief, Director Leopoldo N. Bataoil said he has ordered a hunt for Police Officer 3 Hector de la Cruz, a member of the Northern Police District’s Service Security Group for killing PO3 Enrique Trinidad, 36.
Bataoil said their investigation showed that Trinidad was about to park his motorcycle in front of his house along E. Castillo Street in Maypajo when the suspect arrived.
After a brief conversation, the suspect drew his 9mm pistol and without any apparent reason treacherously shot the victim twice. Trinidad sustained gunshot wounds in the breast and right temple and died while being taken by his father Jaime to the Martinez Memorial Hospital.
Bataoil said he has ordered NPD director, Chief Supt. Eric Q. Javier to arrest PO3 De la Cruz, a resident of Kadiwa St. in Lerma, Maypajo, Caloocan City at all cost. He also ordered a thorough investigation into motive behind the slaying of PO3 Trinidad.
In South Cotabato , MILF rebels simultaneously harassed an Army detachment in Bgy. Polonuling in Tupi town and the Mirabuena Farm in Bgy. Sumbakil in Polomolok municipality 12 a.m. Tuesday triggering a firefight with soldiers. No casualty was reported in both incidents, said Police Regional Office 12 director, Chief Supt. Fidel A. Cimatu Jr.
In General Santos City, a grenade lobbed by one of two unidentified motorcycle-riding men exploded near a local police outpost 7:30 p.m. Tuesday injuring a policeman and his wife and another civilian.
Cimatu. said witnesses saw the suspects passing by at the police outpost along J. Catolico Avenue and Tiongson Street in Bgy. Lagao before one of them hurled the grenade.
The grenade landed five meters away from the target and exploded injuring Police Officer Jake Coronica, his wife Liezel and one Joy Peñafiel, a waitress in a nearby bar.
Witnesses said the suspects who were on board a motorcycle without license plates passed by the Croco Bar before the back-rider lobbed the grenade that hit the concrete wall at the other side of the road before landing near the police outpost.
Bomb experts recovered several metal fragments and the safety lever of the grenade. Cimatu said the three victims suffered slight injuries and ere taken to the General Santos City District Hospital.