(Left photo) The bullet hole on the roof of the attic room, (right photo) the stray bullet that landed on the sleeping area where Joanne Cilindro Estepa and her 1-month old baby were preparing to sleep on the morning of New Year's Day, January 1, 2021, inside a house in Barangay Sicsican. | Photo by Joanne Cilindro Estepa

A stray bullet fired from a gun at the height of New Year’s celebration narrowly missed a 1-month old child who was lying in bed with his mother in an attic room of their house in Barangay Sicsican, Puerto Princesa City.

Joanne Cilindro Estepa, the baby’s mother, said they were about to sleep around 1 to 1:30 a.m. when she heard a loud noise from the roof of their attic room, then saw a bullet about an inch away from the left shoulder of her child.

“Bigla na lang akong may nakita na bala na parang nahulog at napunta doon sa may gilid… about 1 inch siguro ang layo sa braso ng baby ko sa kaliwang braso — feeding time kasi niya,” said Estepa.

Estepa said they were in Sicsican to spend the New Year with her in-laws and to get away from the noisy celebration in their own home in Brgy. San Miguel because of their baby.

She said an uncle who is a retired policeman and police authorities whom they called to help in the investigation had said that if the stray bullet did not hit a foam nearby, it would have made a hole on the bed where the baby was resting.

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“Nag-bounce pa pala siya… bago siya napunta sa gilid ng braso ng anak ko… nag-bounce pa siya sa foam napunta pa pala siya sa foam. Kung dumiretso siya sa gilid ng anak ko daw, maaaring yong part na yon ay butas kasi yong foam nabutas. Nag-bounce siya doon bago siya napunta sa gilid ng braso ng baby ko,” she said.

“Nakaka-trauma — hindi na kami nakatulog. Feeling ko baka mamaya meron nanaman. Kami ng family ko, yong husband ko kasi — taga-San Miguel talaga kasi kami — nandito lang kami kasi bahay ito ng mga in-laws ko. Dito kami every year nagce-celebrate ng New Year namin kasi iniiwasan nga namin yong mga paputok, mga ganyan, kasi medyo maingay kasi sa bayan,” she added.

P/Maj. Mhardie Azares in an interview also Friday morning with Palawan News said the incident is under investigation, but they have already requested for the ballistic examination of the bullet.

“Under investigation na siya, magre-request na kami ng ballistic examination kung registered ang firearm. Kung registered ang firearm, makikita natin agad yon. Yon nga lang kung hindi, mahihirapan tayong ma-identify,” Azares said.

He added the police did not implement muzzle taping for the New Year to be able to respond to incidents.

Azares added too that they have no record of any firecracker-related incidents and injuries except the stray bullet report from Sicsican.

Asked if they are looking into the possibility of the stray bullet coming from the service firearm of uniformed personnel, he said: “Walang muzzle taping ng baril ngayong taon kasi ang iniisip ng PNP pagdating sa responde, baka magka-aberya pa ang baril. At saka kung disiplinado talaga ang pulis, may tape man o wala, hindi magpapaputok yon”.

“Sa PNP wala kaming record sa incident ng mga paputok, yun lang talaga yung sa stray bullet. Pero inaaksyunan na ng PNP… malalaman natin agad ang resulta ng imbestigasyon,” he said. (with a report from Arphil Ballarta)

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has been with Palawan News since January 2019. She is its managing editor, overseeing and coordinating day-to-day editorial activities. Her writing interests are politics and governance, health, defense, investigative journalism, civic journalism, and the environment.