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Firearms seized during raid in businessman’s home

First Posted 09:16:00 09/23/2010

He called himself a gun enthusiast.

But his appetite for firearms has landed 41-year-old Nicolas Robert Sembrano Granthom in jail.

Granthom, a businessman, was arrested yesterday morning after agents of the National Bureau of Investigation in Central Visayas (NBI-7) found a high-powered rfile, four pistols and ammunition in his bedroom in V. Ranudo Street, Cebu City.

Granthom said the weapons were licensed.

Seized inside his room were a 622 rifle, a CZ 9mm pistol, a HK 9mm pistol, a .22 caliber pistol with a silencer, a KWC airsoft pistol, combat knives, a digital weighing scale, ammunition and assorted tablets.

Granthom said the tablets were his medicine for allergic rhinitis.

?Those are over-the-counter drugs I bought in the United States. Those are normal drugs,? he said.

Granthom's lawyer Noel Archival said the firearms were part of his client's collection.

?We respect it (the raid) because it was a valid arrest,? he said. ?But the firearms are used for recreational activities, not to kill somebody. He (Granthom) collects guns. It's not illegal.?

The NBI-7 secured a search warrant from Regional Trial Court Judge Soliver Peras of Branch 10 on Tuesday afternoon to conduct the raid.

Granthom presented documents to show he was a licensed gun holder. The NBI-7 is verifying the documents with the Firearms, Explosives, Security Agencies and Guards Supervision Section in Central Visayas (FESAGSS-7).

NBI-7 Regional Director Edward Villarta said the raid was part of an intensified operation against loose firearms.

He said the NBI was tipped off by an informant that Granthom had a collection of unlicensed firearms. Agents conducted a surveillance before applying for a search warrant.

About 20 NBI agents went to Granthom's residence across Casiño Español de Cebu about 5 a.m.

It was Granthom's 86-year-old grandmother Milagros, who opened the steel gates and was shown a copy of the search warrant.

Arnel Pura, NBI team leader, said they tried to appear calm so Milagros would not be alarmed.

Granthom's family resides in the United States. His mother works there as a physician while his American father is a retired medicine manufacturer.

The agents knocked on the door. It took Granthom 20 minutes to come out of his room, which is located behind the two-storey house.

The agents later learned that Granthom was contacting his lawyer before facing the NBI.

Granthom was detained at the NBI holding cell.

The guns and ammunition will be brought to the Cebu City Prosecutor's Office today. The NBI plans to file a complaint for illegal possesion of firearms and ammunition.

Pura said the NBI started watching Granthom in April following a report that he shot a waiter of Casiño Español who was allegdly making noise outside his home. The waiter was shot in the thigh but didn't press charges.

?We developed this case since April after the shooting incident. We received information that he is keeping several high powered firearms,? said Pura.

Pura said a check with the Fessags records didn't yield any gun license registration under Granthom's name, prompting the NBI to apply for a search warrant.

?The basis for search warrant is on the (Sept. 9) certification issued by Fessags that the subject has no pending application or valid license to possess firearms. At this time, he (Granthom) is showing to us documents claiming that he is licensed, authorized to carry (firearms). But we are banking on the certification issued by Fessags attesting to the fact that he does not have pending application or license to carry or possess any firearms,? said Pura.

Pura said they will recheck Fessags records and see if the firearms taken from Granthom's bedroom were registered.

Pura said that even if Granthom applied for licenses in 2007, ?by this time, these had not been renewal? since the license was valid for two to three years.

Granthom said he was a gun enthusiast who collects firearms. He said he was also a member of the Kamagong Gun Club and the Ultima Sharp Shooters Club.

He said he has papers to show that his firearms were all licensed.

Granthom, however, refused to comment when asked to comment on the report that he had shot a neighbor in April.

His lawyer, Archival, explained that someone had tried to enter the family compound where Granthom also collects animals like birds, crocodile, snakes and dogs.

?If you enter the house to steal, you will be shot because the owner of the house has the authority to defend his property,? he said.

He said Granthom called him on the phone for advice because he could not help but worry that evidence may be planted by law enforcers.

?It's up to the NBI to file a case against my client. But my client insists that he has a license to possess firearms,? said Archival.

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