Amid calls for stricter gun controls following the death of two children in New Year celebrations and a shooting rampage in Kawit, Cavite, that killed eight people, President Aquino on Sunday took home the championship trophy in a shoot fest with senior police and military officials.
Mr. Aquino, a gun enthusiast, bested 102 generals and other senior officers in the executive category of the shooting competition dubbed “Games of the Generals 2013” at the shooting range of Camp Crame, the headquarters of the Philippine National Police, a senior official told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
“The President was the champion in the executive category after he got the best aggregate score,” a second official said.
The second official said Mr. Aquino had been regularly joining gun shooting competitions even after he was sworn in as the country’s most powerful man in 2010.
Bloody New Year
The two officials asked not to be identified, saying they had not been authorized to talk to the media and they did not want to be called down by their superiors.
The competition was held in the wake of a bloody celebration of the New Year in some parts of Metro Manila.
Stephanie Nicole Ella, 7, was fatally shot in the head while she and her relatives were watching fireworks outside their home in Caloocan City on New Year’s Eve. In Mandaluyong City, also on New Year’s Eve, 4-year-old Ranjilo Nemer died after he was shot by a drunken man with a homemade shotgun.
In Kawit, Cavite, eight people were shot and killed by a supposedly drug-crazed gunman on Friday. The gunman was killed by the police.
The shooting incidents sparked calls for a total gun ban among civilians.
Bonding with generals
Among those who competed in the shootout were Army, Navy and Air Force generals, vice admirals from the Coast Guard and chief superintendents and officers of higher rank in the Philippine National Police and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.
“This is a way for him to foster camaraderie among generals in the uniformed service. It’s also the President’s way of bonding with police and military generals. He wants to be with them not only during tension-filled events,” the first official said.
He said the President won the shoot fest’s “9mm pistol production division,” which means that Mr. Aquino used a 9mm handgun “straight out of the box” with no modifications.
The official said it was common for gun enthusiasts to modify their guns to improve the weapons’ performance.
One of the best
The second official who saw Mr. Aquino in action during the daylong competition said the win “showed how good the President is in using guns.”
“I think he’s one of the best shooters right now in the country,” said the second Inquirer source.
Among gun enthusiasts, those who win in the “production category” of shooting competitions are considered “a cut above the rest,” a third senior official said.
“It’s because the guns used in this category are ’stock’ or in factory conditions. Since you all have the same quality of guns, it’s up to the skills of the shooter to beat the others,” the third official said.
“In the case of the President, he just showed how good he was in handling and using a pistol.”