Gov't authorities bat for effective gun control system

June 4, 2010 8:02 pm 

MANILA, June 4 – Government authorities underscored anew the importance of establishing an effective system of gun control to take away instruments of crime and armed conflict during the multi-sectoral Consultative Summit of the National Firearms Control Program (NFCP).

In his remarks during the 2nd NFCP Summit in Camp Crame attended by some 300 participants, National Police Commission (NAPOLOM) Commissioner Eduardo Escueta highlighted the need to establish a sustainable and effective system of gun control.

“We cannot afford another Maguindanao massacre in our midst, especially not at this time when we just convinced ourselves of the absolute power of the ballot in a fair and peaceful elections,” Escueta said, quoting Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno.

Escueta also emphasized observation that “the prevailing culture of violence in some parts of the country, especially in the South is partly due to an apparent failure of gun control or the lack of it.”

Puno said gun control is not only a national issue affecting the Philippines, but is actually a global concern that transcends national boundaries.

As signatory to the United Nations declaration on the proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW), the Philippines shares the concern of the worldwide community of free nations over the fact that small arms and light weapons had been used to cause many deaths in conflicts around the world.

Quoting a UN document passed during a series of UN conferences on the illicit trade in small arms in 2001 and 2006, Puno said small arms and light weapons destabilize regions; spark, fuel and prolong conflicts; obstruct relief programs; undermine peace initiatives; exacerbate human rights abuses; hamper development; and foster a "culture of violence".

For our own purposes, we have put in place a National Firearms Control Program to rationally address local issues on gun control and proliferation of small arms.

And to the credit of our law enforcement agencies and security forces, we have gained significant headway in the gun control campaign by accounting and documenting 689,000 of the estimated 1.1-million loose firearms we initially targeted to account.

On top of that, our security forces confiscated some 2,500 firearms and 289 explosive devices from violators of the 150-day election gun ban period.

All these law enforcement initiatives manifest the keen resolve of government to establish effective gun control in our country under the spirit and intent of the un declaration against instruments of armed conflict.

For his part, PNP chief Director General Jesus Verzosa said the PNP is duty bound and will continue to enforce gun control laws provided under Presidential Decree 1866 and Republic Act 8294.

Verzosa said ”the culmination of the nationwide election gun ban on June 9 by virtue of Comelec Resolution No. 8714 does not automatically decriminalize unlawful gun possession and illegal carrying of firearms by unauthorized individuals.

“With or without Comelec Resolution 8714, a gun ban per se has always been in effect as provided under Presidential Decree 1866– the operative law on firearms control as amended by Republic Act 8294,” the Chief PNP explained.

Verzosa said government security forces confiscated 2,590 different types of firearms and 289 explosive devices from violators of the election gun ban that started in January 10 this year.

The consultative summit is a is a follow-through activity to the National Summit on Firearms Control held on May 18-19, 2009 that precipitated the issuance of Executive Order no. 817 setting into motion a National Firearms Control Program to address the growing concern over the proliferation of loose firearms particularly guns used in criminal activity.

“This follow-on initiative on gun control comes at a most significant time when we are freshly reeling from the successful culmination of a 150-day election period during which we strictly implemented a nationwide firearms prohibition under the same spirit and intent of this national firearms control program that we seriously look forward to achieve.

Participating in the consultative summit are representatives from different stakeholders including government agencies and institutions, NGOs, media, academe, and religious sectors.

Resource speakers in the Consultative Summit include CHR Chair Leila De Lima, Commissioner Edilberto Adan of the Zenarosa Commission, Atty. Hector Rodriguez, President of the Association of Firearms and Ammunition Dealers (AFAD) Christopher Punla of the Total Pro-Gun Confederation; Mr. Reynando “Nandy” Pacheco, of the Gunless Society of the Philippines; and Fr. Carmelo Diola, chairman of Dilaab Foundation, Inc., and Dr. Nick Fontanilla of the Asia-Pacific Center for Research (ACRE). (PNA) LAP/MM

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