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Sotto wants senators to carry firearms




04:36 PM January 10th, 2013

By: Maila Ager, January 10th, 2013 04:36 PM
Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto III. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines— Senate Majority Leader  Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, who described  himself as a “favorite whipping  boy” of some people,  wants members  of the Senate  to  be  included in the list of those who should be allowed to possess and carry licensed  firearms.

Sotto made the proposal  during a Senate hearing  on  Thursday  on Senate Bill 2993, which seeks a comprehensive law on firearms, light weapons  and ammunitions, filed by Senator Panfilo Lacson.

Under the bill, the following professionals whose lives are considered  in imminent danger due to the nature of their   profession, occupation or business are allowed to   carry firearms outside their residences:

  • members of the Philippine  bars
  • certified public accountants
  • accredited media practitioner
  • cashiers
  •  bank tellers
  • Priests
  • Ministers
  • Rabbi
  • Imam
  • Physicians
  • Nurses
  • engineers
  • businessmen.

“To the Senate bill proposed by Lacson, we might as well  include the senators because in my case I’m not only the favorite whipping   boy of some social media practitioners  but also the favorite whipping   boy of the illegal drugs  organizations since time immemorial but I don’t have a single bodyguard,” Sotto said.

“I’d rather believe in my self-defense and that’s the reason that I carry a firearm…Hindi ho ako nagba-body guard e. I don’t want the Filipino people paying for my bodyguard…,” he added.

It was lawyer Ferdinand Parayno, secretary general  of the National Prosecutor League of the Philippines, who first  suggested  during the same  hearing, that senators, along  with prosecutors,  judges and qualified officials and employees should also be included in the  proposed legislation.“

“I want to be realistic your honor. It is the fact that the number of  policemen nationwide is not enough  to protect our citizenry nationwide. Marami pong mga priority ang mga [pulis]. Kung kami po lahat mga prosecutors, we are more than 2000 nationwide, magre-request ng protection sa PNP (The police have their priorities. If all prosecutors would request protection from the Philippine National Police) how would they be able to perform their other duties?” Parayno asked.

“I think it will be more prudent for the government to allow qualified government officials, judges prosecutors, senators to be allowed to own, possess and to carry their firearms so they could protect themselves in  the event of any attack. That is a realistic approach to the problem,” he said .

Parayno’s  group  and several other groups, including the  Gunless Society of the Philippines present in the hearing , favored stiffer  gun control law but not a total gun ban.

“The Prosecutors League of the Philippines is for stricter gun control. By that,  we mean that there should be  strict monitoring of gun ownership and possession.  We are not for total gun ban,” Parayno said.

“The Gunless Society and Kapatiran Party of which I’m a secretary general is not for a total gun ban but simply stricter  gun control,’  said Norman Cabrera, secretary general of the Gunlesss Society.

“The possession in public places of  firearms and deadly weapons should be authorized only for those directly and primarily engaged in police, military or security services and even then,  only to enforce the law under a strict and clearly defined guidelines. The act does not in any way impair the privilege  of responsible and qualified citizens to keep licensed firearms at home or at sports clubs,” Cabrera added.

Arsenio “Boy” Evangelista, whose son was killed by the notorious Dominguez carjacking  group, also opposed a total gun ban.

“Our stand here is no to total gun ban simply because our lives are in danger,”  said Evangelista, who  represents the Volunteers  Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) during the  hearing.

“We strongly believe that 95 percent involving shooting incidents, crimes against person (happen) outside of our residents. Why deny us  of bringing guns outside our residences? We are a dead-man walking here. Soft target po kami (We become soft targets),”  he said.

Citing data of the PNP’s firearms and  explosives division,  Ernesto Tabujara of the Peaceful Responsible Owners of Guns said that only less than one percent of all crimes committed in the country were committed by licensed firearms while 99.9 percent were allegedly committed  by criminal elements.

Jethro Tan Dionisio, president of the Association of Firearms and Ammunition Dealers of the Philippines, said they are also for stiffer penalties, and  not  for a total gun ban.

“We are in favor of passing  the  law for stiffer penalties. The problem  lies in the proliferation of the illegal guns and the responsible gun owners should not be the ones  who are penalized for this,” Dionisio said.

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