By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
Cadiz City Mayor Salvador Escalante, Jr. said yesterday that forest rangers are not allowed to carry firearms.
Escalante made the statement following an incident involving 48-year-old Nomar Ayan Berto who allegedly discharged his firearm and the stray bullet hit a neighboring house killing a one-year-old baby girl.
According to Escalante, he has already coordinated with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to see to the needs of the victim’s family.
He has also met with Cadiz City police chief, Police Lt. Colonel Rocky Desear, to inquire about the incident, and he learned that the suspect, who is a forest ranger, was drinking with several of his co-workers prior to the incident.
He also learned that the suspect was in fact a close relative of the victim.
The forest rangers are assigned under the Cadiz City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO).
Escalante said forest rangers are not allowed to carry any kind of weapons, especially firearms and he added that he will hold a meeting with CENRO officials and the forest rangers regarding the issue next week.
“I’ve instructed already ang aton kapulisan and DSWD to look into the matter,” the mayor said. “Indi gid pwede, maskin gani aton mga traffic enforcer wala gina-allow nga mag-armas, how much more nga sila.”
Meanwhile, Cadiz City police are now preparing charges of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide against Berto.
Police have also corrected their earlier report and stated that the firearm used by the suspect was a .38 caliber revolver which they have yet to recover, although they do believe that the weapon is currently hidden in the suspect’s house and they have already received direct orders from the city mayor to make sure that the firearm is recovered.
Once recovered the police are expected to also file the additional charge of illegal possession of firearms against Berto.
Police have also clarified that the incident took place on Sunday afternoon.
Earlier on Monday, the one-year-old girl, whom police have requested not to be identified, passed away at a hospital in Bacolod City after sustaining a gunshot wound in the head caused by a stray bullet.
Berto surrendered to police on Tuesday morning, admitting that he was responsible for the incident, however he was unable to provide an exact explanation as to why he discharged his firearm./DGB, WDJ