MANILA -- Thousands of government agencies and corporations are now facing charges for failing to register their guns despite of last November’s deadline notice given to them, police said Tuesday.
Chief Superintendent Alfredo Caballes, the police director for firearms and explosives, said 1,098 of a total of 1,772 government agencies, local government units and government corporations in the country today will be charged for possessing unregistered weapons.
He said employees of these agencies that have failed to comply will also be arrested.
The move came as a crackdown on illegal weapons continued ahead of national elections.
The government launched a campaign last year to rein in the large number of illegal guns in the country, saying they fueled election violence, terrorism, insurgency and other crimes.
A gun amnesty program has helped cut the number of unregistered firearms to 400,000 from 1.1 million last year, national police Chief Jesus Verzosa said.
But about 24,000 of those unregistered weapons belong to government agencies, said Caballes.
Thus, “government units that failed to comply... do not have any registered firearm and thus are not authorized by law to possess firearms” will be charged, Verzosa said.
The officials also said Tuesday that new gun purchases by local government units will also face strict documentation after some weapons issued to police in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao were found to be missing.
The guns were believed to have fallen in the hands of a powerful political clan -- the Ampatuans -- whose members are accused in the November 23 massacre of 57 people in Maguindanao province, said police Deputy Director General Edgardo Acuna.
The police said about 98 percent of the gun-related crimes in the country from 2004 to 2008 were committed with unregistered firearms. UN figures also show that the Philippines ranked 10th worldwide in 2005 for homicides involving guns. (AP/Sunnex)