Solon proposes special exceptions on gun-licensing requirement for journalists, members of the judiciary

April 9, 2014 8:42 am 

MANILA, April 8 — With the latest killing of another journalist, Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento on Tuesday said there might be a need for the Philippine National Police (PNP) to consider making special exceptions for its gun licensing requirement for media practitioners and other "high-risk" professions who are not members of the police and the military.

Sarmiento said many members of the media are facing libelcases, which makes it very difficult for them to secure court and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) clearance, which is required by Republic Act 10591, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act.

Aside from media practitioners, people working in the judiciary such as court sheriffs, prosecutors and judges should be given special exceptions on their gun-licensing requirement as they constantly earn the ire of other people including dangerous criminals.

According to Sarmiento, the new firearms law is an excellent anti-crime measure as it rationalizes and imposes strict requirement on the ownership of firearms which is being blamed for most of the country's violent crimes but there might be a need to adopt special considerations for mediamen and other high-risk professions, particularly those who are frequently brought to court for simply doing their jobs.

"Although the law itself has already included the media and those who are in the judiciary as among those who are allowed to own firearms, there might still be a need to provide them some special exceptions and exemptions with regards to their licensing requirement," he said.

According to Sarmiento, while the PNP is doing everything it can to protect journalists, its limited manpower makes it very impossible for them to stop the series of assassinations targeting members of the media and the judiciary and the only possible deterrent is to forewarn a would-be assailant that their target might be also armed and well-trained in a gunfight.

"The mere thought that a target could be armed and capable of responding to a threat is a good deterrent. Many of our mediamen are now soft targets because their enemies know that they are unarmed. I think that we should make some exceptions to protect our mediamen. I think that some requirement now being imposed on gun licensing shouldbe waived for the members of the media," he noted as he lamented that the series of media killings have labeled the Philippines as one of the most dangerous places for journalists despite the PNP's huge successes in its overall anti-crime campaign.

His recommendation came following the death of Remate tabloid reporter and radio blocktimer Rubie Garcia. She was gunned down right inside her house and right in front of her horrified children in Bacoor, Cavite last Sunday.

The Visayan solon lauded the PNP's immediate decision to form a "special investigation task group" to handle Garcia's murder but he also noted that the attack only exposed further the vulnerability of journalists who are now mostly unarmed following the implementation of RA 10591. (PNA)



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