(File photo)

MANILA – The Philippine National Police (PNP) has ordered police commanders throughout the country to frequently hold gun safety training for personnel and remind them to exercise caution in handling their own firearms at all times.

PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. issued the order after a police officer accidentally fired his service firearm in San Pablo City, Laguna last Nov. 24, killing a fellow police officer.

The victim was identified as Cpl. Fhrank Alden dela Cruz, while the suspect was Cpl. George Mervin Duran, both assigned with the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) of the San Pablo City police station.

Duran, Dela Cruz and their fellow policemen were at the vicinity of Barangay 1-B hall in San Pablo City cleaning their firearms in preparation for inspection when the incident happened.

Duran was approached by a colleague who told him that their firearms may have been switched.

Duran promptly checked his 9mm pistol and tried to clear his firearm’s chamber of ammunition.

However, Duran's firearm accidentally fired and hit Dela Cruz, who was declared dead on arrival at the Community General Hospital of San Pablo City after succumbing to a gunshot wound in the right chest.

PNP public information office chief Col. Redrico Maranan said every policeman must be familiar with gun safety rules in order to prevent fatal accidents like this.

“After the report reached the office of our chief PNP, Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr, he immediately issued a directive, which is actually a reiteration, to our ground commanders. That should be a priority, it should be conducted weekly and take a look if we have shortcomings,” he said.

Maranan also said policemen need familiarization to maintain gun proficiency skills.

“One may forget it (skills) if they do not practice it from time to time. If you forget basic gun safety rules, that’s dangerous. It may lead to loss of life, just like what happened in San Pablo,” said Maranan.

In a press briefing in Camp Crame, Lt. Gen. Rhodel Sermonia, PNP officer in charge and deputy chief for administration, said Duran will be facing criminal and administrative charges in connection with the incident while the victim's family has already received assistance from PNP.

Sermonia said the PNP is conducting a fact-finding investigation on the incident and continuing the training on gun handling to prevent a similar incident in the future.

“We keep reminding our people to be cautious and at the same time be very careful in handling our own firearms and we have been doing that (trainings) continuously. We have to keep reminding them, especially with the incident that happened like that,” he added. (PNA)