MANILA, Philippines – Catholic bishops on Saturday threw their weight behind proposals to impose a total gun ban in the country after an apparently disturbed man went on a shooting rampage in Kawit, Cavite and killed eight persons and wounded 9 others.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, said the government should consider the proposal to ensure the safety of unarmed Filipinos.
“Maybe it’s for the government to study. There may be some people who may be allowed in some circumstances [to carry guns] but in general the spirit [of the proposal] is good,” Palma said in an interview.
“We have to consider what the others say when they claim the right to protect themselves [but] as I said, in principle, the gun ban is in the spirit of peace and protection, especially of the innocent,” he added.
Palma said the government should be strict in giving individuals licenses to carry guns and crack down on loose firearms.
“The government knows that. They are even making every effort to make the licensing of guns more strict and to ensure that people whoa re allowed to use guns are indeed psychologically or emotionally reliable or safe,” he said.
“As of now, I know we know the rules but usually it’s just a question of implementation,” he added.
Antipolo Bishop Gabriel Reyes said that the bishops were “saddened” by the tragedy in Cavite, where former barangay councilman Ronald Bae shot 15 persons, including a pregnant woman.
“We are saddened because this happened. We thought these things happen only in US. Now, it’s starting to happen here. Although we had before people who run amok, we hope it wil not be repeated that often. Let us pray that these things will not happen again,” Reyes said.
“There should be more control about guns. I’m not an expert about safety but at least there must be more control about guns,” he added.
Malolos Bishop Jose Oliveros said he supported a total gun ban because it was in line with the Church’s “pro-life” position.
“We support the total gun ban. We proclaim the gospel of life versus the culture of death,” he said.
Caloocan bishop Deogracia Iniguez said he was also in favor of a total gun ban and not just during elections.
“I’m in favor of the gun ban. Only the police and the military may carry guns, but they should also be regulated,” Iniguez said.
Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes and Lipa Archbishop Ramon Argulles also said that they supported a total gun ban.
“What we should support and campaign for is the responsible and moral use of guns. That covers both legally and illegally acquired guns,” said Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, a former CBCP president.