Gun ban in Iloilo towns lifted
ILOILO CITY, Philippines—The Philippine National Police has ordered the lifting of a controversial gun ban in eight towns in Iloilo.
In a memorandum to Chief Supt. Cipriano Querol Jr., Western Visayas police director, PNP chief Director General Raul Bacalzo directed the lifting of an order that suspended permits to carry firearms outside of homes in the towns of Ajuy, Balasan, Batad, Carles, Concepcion, Estancia, San Dionisio and Sara starting on Aug. 15.
Permits to carry firearms outside residences were suspended on July 5 in an order that was supposed to take effect until Jan. 15 next year.
In his order, Bacalzo said due to intensified police patrols, threats of violence with the use of firearms have “already diminished” in the fifth congressional district where the towns are located.
He said this was based on the assessment of a team which was sent to the area.
“It is worthy to note, however, that none of the suspects caught with firearms are registered gun owners or holders, an indication that only legitimate gun owners are strictly complying with the (gun ban) while criminals continue with their nefarious activities,” Bacalzo said.
He also directed Querol to sustain police patrols and checkpoints not only in the fifth district but in the entire province of Iloilo.
The PNP earlier said the gun ban was imposed to curb rising criminality and the proliferation of firearms in the area.
All eight towns covered by the ban are in the province’s fifth congressional district. The district’s three other towns of Barotac Viejo, Lemery and San Rafael were exempted.
Local officials, including members of the Iloilo Provincial Peace and Order Council, provincial chapters of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines, Vice Mayors League of the Philippines and Liga ng mga Barangay sa Pilipinas, protested the gun ban and called for its recall.
They argued that the crime rate in the district and province has even gone down as shown by statistics from law enforcement agencies. They also decried the lack of consultation in the implementation of the gun ban.
Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor welcomed the lifting of the gun ban but said he did not agree with the reasons cited by the PNP.
“The gun ban was wrong right from the start,” Defensor said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.