PNP: Safeguards in place to prevent spike of gun-related violence

MANILA. Philippine National Police Civil Security Group director Major General Benjamin Silo Jr. during a press conference in Camp Crame on Wednesday, March 6, 2024.
MANILA. Philippine National Police Civil Security Group director Major General Benjamin Silo Jr. during a press conference in Camp Crame on Wednesday, March 6, 2024.Photo by Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo

THE Philippine National Police (PNP) assured on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, that sufficient safeguards are in place to prevent the spike of violent incidents involving firearms amid concerns in allowing civilians to own semi-automatic weapons.

In a press conference, PNP Civil Security Group director Major General Benjamin Silo Jr. said the current safety measures being implemented by the Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO) before and after owning those firearms are more than sufficient to protect the public from possible harm.

“The stand of CSG and FEO [is] there are more than sufficient safety measures before and after owning. I think we are just protecting the public of their rights because under the law, they are allowed. We cannot do otherwise but implement the different provisions of RA (Republic Act) 10591,” Silo said.

“We just corrected the IRR (Implementing Rules and Regulations) because the law allows it. The IRR should also allow it. The problem here is way back 2018, the revised IRR limit the ownership to sports shooters only na hindi sinasabi ng batas. So we just simply amended ‘yung particular provision na yun. We go back to comply with the real intent of the framers of the law,” he added.

Silo noted that among the requirements for acquiring firearms are passing the neuro-psychological tests and drug tests. Applicants are also required to submit a police clearance, which will ensure that they are not facing any criminal charges.

“Right now, we requested the DIDM. Tinitingnan namin for five years ilan ba ang crimes na nacommit using 7.62 caliber down with semi-automatic mode. We are just waiting pero sa tingin ko very isolated itong paggamit,” he said.

“Those who can own are only those who passed our neuro, drug test and then after passing and owning those firearms, mas marami hong restrictions kasi andaming grounds for revocation. If I have to mention, if they commit crimes involving the use of firearms automatically ground na po para irevoke yan. Kung convicted naman sila sa crimes involving moral turpitude or penalty exceeding six years, i-rerevoke din namin yan. Ngayon kung may naviolate silang any provision ng drug law natin referring to RA 9165, ground din yan sa revocation at kung pagmamay-ari na nila ito, dapat hindi nila dalhin sa labas kung wala silang PTCFOR (Permit to Carry Firearms Outside Residence),” he added.

In a separate press conference, PNP chief of the Public Information Office Colonel Jean Fajardo said they are looking at the amendment of the IRR as a preventive measure against the proliferation of loose firearms, as there were individuals owning such caliber but failed to register it due to the earlier prohibition.

As of February 16, 2024, there were 703,703 expired firearms registrations.

“The intention really here is gusto rin natin inadvocate ‘yung responsible gun ownership dito sa ating ipinush na amendment and in fact, umaasa rin tayo na mga lisensya and registration for those civilians na in possession nitong mga ganitong klaseng baril ay maeenganyo na rin sila irehistro at kumuha ng License To Own and Possess Firearm (LTOPF) of this particular category para mabawasan ‘yung mga nandun sa category ng loose firearms kasi kapagka hindi niyo nairenew yung mga lisensya at rehistro ng mga baril, itong mga baril na ito will be categorized as loose firearms,” Fajardo said.

Earlier, Senator Imee Marcos and Francis Tolentino criticized the PNP’s decision to allow civilians to own firearms not more than 7.62mm or M14.

Marcos feared the possible increase in criminality, terrorism, arms smuggling, and widespread violence especially ahead of the 2025 elections.

She said it also complicates the government’s effort to decommission rebel firearms.

"The PNP is shooting itself in the foot and compromising law enforcement efficiency and, above all, public safety," Marcos said.

"Do we want a proliferation of shooting violence like in the US? Who is lobbying for firearms manufacture and imports?" she asked.

Meanwhile, Silo also said that the validity of License to Own and Possess Firearms has been extended to five years to 10 years, from one to two years.

This means that instead of renewing LTOFP within one or two years, gun owners are given five to 10 years before renewal. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)


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