In with a bang-A A +A
Thursday, January 10, 2013
THE New Year. Literally. Up in manic Manila at least 33 people were wounded by celebratory stray bullets. Two died - both of them children. Sunday last at Antimonan, Quezon, 13 people died at a police checkpoint shootout including three policemen and two military men (And did you see the TV footage of the riddled-with-holes black-windowed high-end SUVs? Were those PNP vanity plates? Were those Malacanang stickers? A whole can of worms there).
In Cavite, Friday last, Ronald Bae ran amok with a pistol killing seven of his neighbors and wounding 11 before he, in turn, was shot down by police. This incident too is raising more questions than providing answers. Bae was a good neighbor it's said and yet he's fired off his pistol indiscriminately before. And why did he own so many properly licensed firearms? A .45 Sig-Saur, a high-powered AK47 assault rifle and a similarly high-powered M16?
I looked up the Philippine's basic firearm regulations – “Each individual may hold under license a maximum of only one low-powered rifle caliber 22 or shotgun not heavier than 12 gauge and one pistol or revolver, not higher than caliber .38 except caliber .357 and caliber .22 center fire magnum and those which may later be classified by the Chief, Philippine National Police.”
The police, interviewed on TV, said they were baffled as to how Bae – a civilian - owned so many licensed firearms and I say that's horse manure. Somebody at the PNP had to sign the permits. Go and knock on his door and ask but of course that'll never happen and, if you listen carefully, in the background you'll hear a giant vat of whitewash being mixed.
Of course, every regulation, be it a firearm permit or whatever, has exclusions covered by the “special circumstances” stamp, a large purple rubber stamp which is pulled out of its back draw if you want a permit for a bazooka or one of those fancy 1000 rounds a minute Israeli assault rifles the size of a pencil case and, naturally, if you know the right people. That's probably how Ronald Bae got his permits. It's probably how Mindanao's 101 private armies get their permits too.
Droning on and “it appears that the US government has been using the Visiting forces Agreement to gain unrestricted movement in Philippine airspace.”
“A violation of our national sovereignty.”
“The Visiting Forces Agreement must be scrapped.”
That's our loony group - sorry, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) frothing at the mouth after a US military drone was brought to the surface by a diver off San Jacinto, Masbate, last Monday. The bright orange cruise missile-like target drone - if Bayan had bothered to find out and according to the US Embassy - was launched as part of a military exercise off the island of Guam which, the last time I looked and if the Philippines hasn't been dragging its anchors, is near enough 1500 miles from the our islands which is far, far away from either the national airspace or its territorial waters.
Bayan also might have discovered that this particular drone was launched September last year, unaccountably not retrieved, and since then at the whims and wishes of the great Pacific Ocean's currents and weather including Typhoon Pablo. Note again Bayan that the thing was covered in barnacles - hardly fresh from the launch rack was it? I'd suggest that instead of frothing on when there's nothing to froth about you might take up the issue with King Neptune whose currents and tides wafted the drone to our waters and, at the same time, lobby for changes in the Visiting Oceans Agreement (VOE).
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 11, 2013.