Loose guns everywhere

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By Ben Emata

From Across the Seas

Sunday, December 22, 2013

IF YOU are in the moon and looking down at planet Earth, you will see the Philippines just as big as the hole of a needle. So small, yet populated by people ready to violate any law.

I should know because I am one of them and I have seen how things go around that sometimes frighten a lot of people scattered around the world. For instance, some Kababayans who are now residing in foreign lands have expressed their fear about visiting their homes because of crimes. Crimes have always been part of the country and surely, it drives away visitors or tourists. Added to these crimes are deaths in traffic recklessness.

Guns are easy to secure. We have silent factories in Cebu, Bohol and other places, and anybody can buy them for about five hundred pesos. Guns are like ordinary merchandises offered in some dark corners.

The last time the Filipinos were disarmed of their possessions of deadly weapons like guns was during the time of the late President Ferdinand Marcos, shortly after he declared martial law.

I remember so well the constabulary soldiers engaged in a house-to-house campaign against loose firearms. One time, a barangay captain accosted me on surrendering my firearm. According to the law enforcers, any violation would mean 20 years hard labor in military camps, plus other fines or penalties.

In a few weeks of massive campaigns, thousands upon thousands of firearms were collected from Luzon to Mindanao. My friend who had an automatic submachine gun that he was keeping for years had to part away with it, afraid of the hard labor. Added to this drive were the abuses of some PC soldiers who kicked people for nothing. There was curfew every night and surely, people were like chickens without feathers. It was horror everywhere. It was those times that spoiled many law enforcers as they became abusive and wild. They thought they were the authorities and as such can make things upside down in minutes.

Peace and order were terrific. It was peaceful everywhere. The soldiers walk around like knights with shining armor and people bowed to them like those in ancient Rome.

I was already in the media operating my newly born newspaper, which was closed right away at the sound of Marcos. One time, a soldier asked me if I was willing to fight with him western style. Of course, I was unarmed while he had his .45 cal. pistol dangling in his side. Hundreds of media men were already in military camps without cases filed against them. It was plain dictatorship then.

It was really a bad life for us, but I like the disarming of the Filipinos who have hidden firearms in their homes. Guns make many of us courageous, abusive, brave with criminal minds and anything else that could contribute lawlessness in any environment.

Robbers are fully armed and they are dangerous. I would estimate nowadays thousands have loose firearms in their homes. If the government could only enforce some kind of policies that would allow our law enforcers to break through where the guns are hidden, I think the country will experience total peace once more. Let us try it. ‘


Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 23, 2013.


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