Kawit gunman had stash of high-powered firearms—PNP
MANILA, Philippines—The drug-crazed man who killed eight people and wounded 12 others in a shooting spree in Kawit, Cavite, last Friday owned two powerful assault rifles and a handgun, an official of the Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Sunday.
Chief Supt. Raul Petrasanta, chief of the PNP’s Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO), said Ronald Bae was able to secure gun licenses for an AK-47 assault rifle, a 5.56-mm-cal. M16 Elisco rifle and a .45-cal. Sig Sauer pistol from the FEO in 2007.
At the time, he said then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo issued an executive order granting amnesty to all holders of loose firearms.
Like other owners of unlicensed guns, Petrasanta said Bae was not required to provide information regarding the source of his guns and why he wanted to keep such high-powered firearms.
“It appears that Bae was able to register his firearms with no questions asked,” Petrasanta told the Philippine Daily Inquirer over the phone.
“His guns were not subjected to ballistics test like we do now. The executive order was issued to encourage all owners of loose firearms to have their guns registered with the FEO,” the PNP official added.
Petrasanta said the 1911 .45-cal. pistol that Bae used in his killing rampage was a loose firearm, which meant that the gun was never registered with the FEO.
He said it was up to police investigators to determine how Bae, who was killed when he purportedly traded shots with responding policemen, got hold of the unlicensed gun.
Petrasanta also disclosed that the slain shooter’s wife, Maria Elena, had told police investigators that his husband’s firearms were confiscated by agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) who raided their house in Kawit in 2009.
However, he said PDEA did not inform the FEO that it had seized three firearms from Bae during its anti-illegal drug operations.
“That’s why we will remind other law-enforcement agencies to report to us whenever they seize guns during their operations,” Petrasanta said, stressing that FEO was the only authorized depository of all confiscated firearms.
“This would also help us monitor which guns were used in crime-related activities so that we can immediately revoke the gun licenses issued to the persons who owned the recovered guns,” he aexplained.
Petrasanta said the FEO had sought the assistance of the local police and Maria Elena to check if Bae also kept unlicensed guns in his house in Guagua, Pampanga.
Petrasanta also supported moves seeking to enact laws that would impose stricter gun-control measures and harsher punishment to violators.
He lamented that the present policies on gun ownership allowed individuals to regain firearms permits even if their previous licenses had been revoked.
“In fact, the PNP is very supportive of a pending bill in the Congress which would introduce stricter penalties to those who violate laws regarding gun ownership,” he said. “It’s better to have stricter gun-control measures. If you ask me, I would also like to issue permanent revocation to gun licenses that had been voided before due to crime-related incidents. Because right now, gun holders whose permits had been revoked can still ask for a second chance (to own guns).”
He, however, admitted that it would be difficult to push for a total gun ban in the country, noting that the local gun manufacturing was already a multibillion-peso industry.
At present, Petrasanta said there are 63 companies involved in gun and ammunition production, and ammunition reloading business.
He said some of these companies had been exporting firearms and ammunitions.
Besides tougher gun-control laws, Petrasanta said the bloody shooting incident in Kawit must also prompt policemen to respond to citizen’s call swiftly.
Earlier media reports said that members of the Kawit police station arrived rather belatedly after a resident informed them about Bae’s shooting rampage.
“No amount of legislation can stop this kind of violence if the policemen cannot act immediately on the information given to them by the people,” Petrasanta said.