MANILA: A senior government official on Tuesday ordered the immediate relief of a Philippine National Police (PNP) general for the killing of a suspected violator of the nationwide gun ban in connection with May 10 midterm election.
Secretary Mar Roxas of the Department of Interior and Local Government identified the officer as Chief Superintendent James Melad, the regional police commander of Calabarzon in Southern Luzon.
Also included in the relief order he issued to PNP Director General Alan Purisima were police officers and men involved in the killing at dawn on Monday of Fernando Morales, 45, in the town of San Juan, Batangas province in Southern Luzon, Roxas said.
Police earlier reported that Morales was among the seven people killed since the start of the implementation on Jan.13 of the gun ban imposed by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
The ban, in effect for the 150-day election period, is to end on June 12 to help ensure the conduct of fair, honest and violence-free midterm polls on May 10 just four months away.
At stake in the May polls are 12 senatorial seats who are to be elected nationally as well as 16,000 provincial and local positions such as congressmen, governors, mayors and councilors.
Police also reported that at least 16 people including two government employees were arrested at various checkpoints throughout the country for allegedly violating the gun ban.
Meanwhile, Roxas explained he ordered the relief of Melad and the police units involved in the slaying of Morales who allegedly tried to shoot it out with the lawmen sent to arrest him for illegal possession of firearms.
In particular, Roxas expressed surprise why the lawmen went to the house of Morales at 1:30am on Monday to serve him a warrant of arrest in apparent violation of police rules.
Malacanang Palace through Assistant Secretary Abigail Valte, the deputy presidential spokesman, said President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino also wanted a full investigation into the killing of Morales.
The wife of Morales complained her husband was the victim of a “rubout” instead of a “shoot-out” as claimed by policemen.
The killing gained added significance following reports that Morales was the “administrator” of Victor Siman, one of the alleged gambling lords operating the lucrative but illegal numbers game “jueteng” in Southern Luzon.