Malilong: Lingering questions on the gun ban | SunStar

Malilong: Lingering questions on the gun ban

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Malilong: Lingering questions on the gun ban

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

SOME people are simply stubborn. They have already been warned about the enforcement of the gun ban starting last Sunday. They knew the consequences, too: arrest and imprisonment. Still, four flaunted the ban in the province on its first day and must now be staring at the four corners of prison as a reult. Deservingly so, if I may add.

This is the same recklessness that we continue to witness in the ongoing war on illegal drugs. The thousands of deaths, whether from legitimate encounters or by extrajudicial killings, should have already scared the living daylights out of those involved in the drugs business but they seem impervious to fear and continue to ply their trade unmindful of the dire consequences.

Well, as in the case of the gun ban violators, the drug pests cannot claim to not having been sufficiently warned.

Here’s an interesting question, though regarding the gun ban violations. The prohibition to carry firearms is being implemented because the election season for barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan has set in. But the Senate and the House have already agreed to postpone the October 23 polls to May next year. President Duterte is expected to sign the bill into law.

If the law is passed and the October 23 elections are postponed, the gun ban will necessarily have to be lifted. In fact, the correct proposition should be that it ceases to exist, with or without a formal Comelec declaration. In that event, what happens to the cases of those who have earlier been apprehended?

There is a rule that says that an absolute repeal of a law has the effect of depriving the court of authority to punish a person charged with a violation of the old law prior to its repeal. But it may be argued that the legislative measure awaiting the signature of the president does not repeal the law that orders a gun ban during the elections and penalizing its violators.

On the other hand, can it also not be argued that since the holding of an election is the reason for being of the gun ban, a postponement of the October 23 election effectively removes the factual or legal basis for the ban that took effect last Sunday and consequently for the arrest of any licensed firearm holder with a permit to carry outside residence who, well, carries it outside his residence? Isn’t a penal law generally construed in favor of the accused?

I will leave it to the legal luminaries to answer those questions. In the meantime, let’s hope that the president will soon sign the bill that he has certified to Congress as urgent so that these questions will not continue to linger. It would be unfair to the police, who are carrying the additional burden of manning the Comelec checkpoints, if after having spent so much time and effort running after stubborn gun holders, they will be told to release the latter because their defiance did not constitute a crime.

Besides, I really want to know if Philip Zafra is really a has-been councilor, to borrow the favorite expression of our colleague, Bobby Nalzaro.

Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on October 03, 2017.

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