Instead of a total gun ban, groups on both sides of the gun debate on Thursday urged senators to pass a bill that would enforce stricter gun controls to prevent crimes related to loose firearms.
Sen. Gringo Honasan, chairman of the committee on public order, said a “comprehensive” bill that spells out graver penalties for possession of unregistered firearms could still be approved in the nine remaining session days between January and February if President Aquino certifies the bill as urgent.
Honasan wants to raise the penalty for illegal gun possession to 12 years imprisonment from the current six to 12 years.
At a hearing called by the Honasan meeting Thursday, representatives of the Firearms Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (Famap), Gunless Society of the Philippines, Peaceful Responsible Owners of Guns (ProGun), National Prosecutors League of the Philippines and Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) urged senators to work on provisions for tighter gun control.
Claiming that illegal firearms are the ones “causing crimes in the country,” Famap’s Gina Marie Angangco said Famap supported “stiffer penalties for unlicensed possession and manufacture.”
State prosecutor Ferdinand Parayno argued that a total gun ban would work against the interest of government officials whose lives may be under threat from those who are displeased by their official acts.
“Gun ownership should be the right of qualified citizens. Gun possession should be a mere privilege subject to the stringent requirements,” he told the committee.
Parayno asked senators to study the nuances of the law that absorbs the offense of illegal possession of firearms in a greater offense where an unlicensed gun is used.
He said there might be cases when a suspect could be slapped with a separate charge of illegal possession of firearms.
Gunless Society’s Norman Cabrera reminded senators that the late President Corazon Aquino certified the Anti-Deadly Weapons bill in 1991. But while the bill was approved in the Senate, it was “gunned down in the House of Representatives.”
“For President Aquino, this would be an opportunity to fulfill the task left by his mother,” Cabrera said.