MANILA, Philippines—Concerned about several recent shooting incidents in shopping malls in the country, the national police urged for higher penalties to illegal possession of firearms as well as the stricter compliance for required equipment of security agencies.
Philippine National Police chief Director General Nicanor Bartolome said on Thursday they proposed to set illegal possession of firearms to be a non-bailable offense, since most criminals easily paid their way out of jail when caught.
Amendment to the law on gun control would be best, said the PNP chief, since “no matter how aggressive we are in the campaign on gun control, they could still post bail.”
Citing a botched robbery attempt in San Fernando, Pampanga, last year wherein a group was nabbed for targeting a bank but was able to pay the bail amount and moved on to committing other crimes, Bartolome said they proposed to make illegal possession of three guns or more by an individual or group a non-bailable offense. With this, criminals would not be able to get out of detention to commit more crimes.
He urged lawmakers to consider their proposal. “We hope they help us so we can intensify our campaign against bad elements that use guns,” he said.
Stricter regulation of gun control was also needed, according to the PNP chief. He said it was important to regulate who can own guns for personal safety, and who can own and carry firearms outside their homes. He said it would be best to control the processes of acquiring firearms and that it shouldn’t be a free-for-all scheme. “It couldn’t be a situation where anybody could possess a gun and have the authority to carry,” he said in Filipino.
Bartolome explained the responsibilities of a gun owner. He said those who own firearms for protection inside their homes were different from those who are permitted to carry their firearms outside.
Policies on security agencies’ requirements were also being reviewed, said the PNP chief, in relation to the twin shooting incidents that rocked shopping malls recently.
Bartolome questioned how firearms were carried past security guards and into shopping malls undetected.
He said he has instructed the chiefs of the national police’s Civil Security Group and Supervisory Office for Security and Investigation Agencies to “implement fully the provision that requires security agencies to have metal detectors and x-ray machine.”
He said the PNP has, to date, recovered some 300,000 out of the estimated 1.1 million loose firearms in the country. “This is a big help for us and we hope the campaign continues.”
Earlier this month, a 13-year-old boy and a woman slipped past security guards of two SM shopping malls carrying firearms.
The woman shot and killed her husband, who worked at SM North EDSA, and injured a security guard who tried to wrestle the gun from her hands.
The boy shot his 16-year-old male friend before committing suicide inside SM Pampanga.