Amazingly, the Philippine government seems to not have made the connection between gun-related crimes and gun ownership. For why else would we have Executive Order 194 (February 24, 2000)which allows Filipinos to own practically as many firearms as they want? E.O. 194 repealed “General Order Nos. 7, 7-A, 7-B and 7-C which authorize[d] certain individuals to possess and carry firearms, limit[ed] the number of firearms to be possessed and regulate[d] the operation of gun clubs” (Sec. 1).
Government allows ownership of unlimited number of firearms
Sec. 2 of the E.O. makes it clear by stating “all citizens of the Philippines may possess firearms of any type and/or caliber”. The only exceptions are the following weapons:
- crew-served weapons (CSWs) – we just learned that it means any weapon that requires 2 or more people to operate it
- light anti-tank weapons (LAWs),
- light machine guns (LMGs),
- anti-personnel recoilless rifles,
- bazookas, and
- etc. – we have yet to determine what type of weapon this term exactly refers to.
So we prevent people from possessing weapons for war but we don’t prevent them from possessing weapons for massacre?
Last January 3, 2013, drug-crazed Ronald Bae shot and killed 2 children and 5 adults and shot and injured 2 more children and 10 more adults. Although he only used a .45 cal pistol during his murderous rage, in 2007, he had “gun licenses for an AK-47 assault rifle, a 5.56-mm-cal. M16 Elisco rifle and a .45-cal. Sig Sauer pistol” before the PDEA found them and confiscated them from him. We shudder to imagine how many more Bae could have killed if he still had the confiscated weapons with him. And how many more Ronald Baes do we need to go on a shooting spree before we scrap this ill-conceived E.O. and get more strict on gun ownership?
That Sec. 2 of E.O. 194 requires all firearms to be “test-fired for ballistics, stenciled and properly licensed” only partially helps in gun control efforts because it does not limit the number of guns one may own. Same goes for the PNP Guidelines In The Issuance Of Permit To Carry Firearms Outside Of Residence which state that “persons who are lawful holders of firearms … are prohibited from carrying their firearms outside of residence”.
People who go on shooting sprees are not likely to first consider whether their weapons have been “test-fired for ballistics, stenciled and properly licensed” nor whether they have a permit to carry the same.
It also doesn’t help that the Permit To Carry Firearms Outside Of Residence (PTCFOR) seems not that difficult to obtain especially if one can afford paying for the permit and the corresponding requirements. An article on Rappler.com by Natashya Gutierrez “Want to own a gun? Here's how easy it is” is informative.
In the U.S.A., gun control efforts are opposed pursuant to the U.S. Constitution’s 2nd amendment guaranteeing the “right of the people to keep and bear arms”. We do not have any similar Constitutional guarantee. What we apparently have is an official surrender by our authorities of their responsibility for peace and order, from a reading of 2 of the Whereas Clauses of E.O. 194 -
“WHEREAS, the rising threat to peace and order posed by criminality, insurgency, subversion, and the secessionist movement requires the dedicated efforts not only of law enforcement agencies but private citizens as well;
WHEREAS, the present thrust of the PNP is to combat all kinds of criminality while current government programs need the support and participation of the citizenry to effectively prevent and suppress criminality and to maintain public order and safety in the land;”
Of all the news reports on gun shootings – deliberate or indiscriminate – we daresay less than 1% involves ordinary folks surviving shootings because they were able to fire back. Likely nil involving instances of children surviving because they were able to shoot back.
E.O. 194 encourages shoot-outs between victim and perpetrator. This scenario just places more innocent victims at risk to both parties’ shootings. Consider what happened in August 2012 in New York involving a gunman and police officers – people trained to use guns. When the NY police officers caught up on foot with the man who just shot and killed his co-worker, the gunman shot at the police officers who were just a few feet away from him. A gun battle ensued. The gunman didn’t hit anyone but the police shot and killed him while also shooting and injuring 9 innocent pedestrians -
“Three passersby sustained direct gunshot wounds, while the remaining six were hit by fragments, according to New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. All injuries were caused by police, he said Saturday.”
If a well-trained police force cannot even prevent collateral damage (with their target only a few steps away), how can we expect ordinary people to have less casualties under similar circumstances? Why would we ordinary people – with no firearms training – be allowed unlimited firearms for the purpose of supporting and participating in the government’s efforts “to effectively prevent and suppress criminality and to maintain public order and safety in the land”? Who wants to engage in a shootout, even with a criminal?
Government efforts should be focused on limiting guns not in multiplying them. The casualties – from actual fatalities to a paranoid citizenry - resulting from one environment against the other are so divergent that those who truly want peace and order would not even think twice of allowing ordinary citizens to own as many firearms as they want.
Government Lowered the Penalty for the Unlawful Manufacture, Sale, Acquisition, Disposition or Possession of Firearms or Ammunition
This apparent acceptance, if not encouragement, of a gun culture is further exemplified by the downgrade of the penalty for the “Unlawful Manufacture, Sale, Acquisition, Disposition or Possession of Firearms or Ammunition or Instruments Used or Intended to be Used in the Manufacture of Firearms of Ammunition” under R.A. 8294 which amended R.A. 1866. Sec. 1 of R.A. 1866 provides the stiff penalty of reclusion temporal in its maximum period (i.e., from 17 years, 4 months and 1 day to 20 years) to reclusion perpetua (at least 30 years) ” while the amendatory law lowers the penalties as follows:
a) prision correccional in its maximum period (i.e., from 4 years, 2 months and 1 day to 6 years) and a fine of not less than P15,000 any low powered firearm, such as rimfire handgun, .380 or .32 and other firearm of similar firepower, part of firearm, ammunition, or machinery, tool or instrument used or intended to be used in the manufacture of any firearm or ammunition Provided, That no other crime was committed; or
b) prision mayor in its minimum period (i.e., from 10 years and 1 day to 12 years) and a fine of P30,000 shall be imposed if the firearm is a high powered firearm which includes those with bores bigger in diameter than .38 caliber and 9 millimeter such as caliber .40, .41, .44, .45 and also lesser calibered firearms but considered powerful such as caliber .357 and caliber .22 center-fire magnum and other firearms with firing capability of full automatic and by burst of two or three.; Provided, however, That no other crime was committed by the person arrested.
"If homicide or murder is committed with the use of an unlicensed firearm, such use of an unlicensed firearm shall be considered as an aggravating circumstance.
If the violation of this Sec. is in furtherance of or incident to, or in connection with the crime of rebellion or insurrection, sedition, or attempted coup d'etat, such violation shall be absorbed as an element of the crime of rebellion, or insurrection, sedition, or attempted coup d'etat.” (Sec. 1 R.A. 8294)
This substantial downgrade of penalties (from the old maximum of 20 years to the new maximum of 6 or 12 years) allowed actor Robin Padilla to be paroled after only serving less than 3 years in prison following his conviction for illegal possession of the following weapons:
- A .357 Caliber revolver, Smith and Wesson, SN-32919 with 6 live ammunitions;
- A M-16 Baby Armalite rifle, SN-RP 131120 with 4 long and 1 short magazine with ammunitions;
- A .380 Pietro Beretta, SN-A 35723 Y with clip and 8 ammunitions; and
- 6 additional live double action ammunitions of .38 caliber revolver.
Further, apart from the substantial downgrade which also allows for earlier parole, why now make a penalty distinction between low-powered and high-powered firearms? Aren’t they all designed to kill?
Can the Unlawful Manufacture, Sale, Acquisition, Disposition or Possession of Firearms or Ammunition go Unpunished?
We are likewise confused with the amended penalties under Sec. 1 of R.A. 8294 which are subject to the proviso that “no other crime was committed”. The last 2 paragraphs of Sec. 1 as stated above list the crimes that affect the imposition of both penalties. In case of homicide or murder, “the use of an unlicensed firearm shall be considered as an aggravating circumstance.” And in cases of rebellion or insurrection, sedition, or attempted coup d'etat, the use of the unlicensed firearm is “absorbed as an element’ of said crimes. This implies that if a crime other than homicide, murder rebellion insurrection, sedition, or attempted coup d'etat is committed, the penalty is also different. But what is it then?
People caught firing guns during new year’s eve celebrations – provided they don’t hurt anyone - are charged with the crime of Alarms and Scandals (under Art. 155, Revised Penal Code). Alarms and Scandals carry the penalty of Arresto Menor (i.e. from 1-30 days) or a fine not exceeding P200 pesos. The penalty and crime for Alarms and Scandals are far less than the penalties for illegal possession of firearms. Yet, Sec. 1 of R.A. 8294 states that the penalties for illegal possession of firearms are subject to the condition that “no other crime was committed”. So when Alarm and Scandal is committed with the use of an illegal firearm, which penalty is imposed? The higher penalty for illegal possession of firearm or the lower penalty for Alarm and Scandal?
As with our plea for Government to stem gun proliferation, we urge Government to also focus their efforts on the penalties for the Unlawful Manufacture, Sale, Acquisition, Disposition or Possession of Firearms or Ammunition or Instruments Used or Intended to be Used in the Manufacture of Firearms of Ammunition. There are inconsistencies in the law regarding penalties which can only benefit criminals and therefore be disastrous to any peace and order effort.
A gun-free society may be a dream (like a drug-free society) because there are legitimate reasons for drugs and guns. Some civilians need firearms for legitimate sport and self-defense. But we should recognize that sport and defense do not require allowing more than 1 non-assault weapon (i.e., not semi or full automatic weapon) per adult and only after a genuine background examination.
 Ramos, M. (2013, January 06). Kawit gunman had stash of high-powered firearms—pnp. Retrieved from http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/336129/kawit-gunman-had-stash-of-high-powered-firearms-pnp
 Section 2.a.,
 Ariosto, D. (2012, August 26). Police: All empire state shooting victims were wounded by officers. Retrieved from http://edition.cnn.com/2012/08/25/justice/new-york-empire-state-shooting/
 “An Act Amending The Provisions Of Presidential Decree No. 1866, As Amended, Entitled "Codifying The Laws On Illegal/Unlawful Possession, Manufacture, Dealing In, Acquisition Or Disposition Of Firearms, Ammunition Or Explosives Or Instruments Used In The Manufacture Of Firearms, Ammunition Or Explosives, And Imposing Stiffer Penalties For Certain Violations Thereof, And For Relevant Purposes”. June 6, 1997.
 “Codifying The Laws On Illegal/Unlawful Possession, Manufacture, Dealing In, Acquisition Or Disposition, Of Firearms, Ammunition Or Explosives Or Instruments Used In The Manufacture Of Firearms, Ammunition Or Explosives, And Imposing Stiffer Penalties For Certain Violations Thereof And For Relevant Purposes". June 29, 1983.
 Padilla vs. CA, G.R. No. 121917. March 12, 1997. Retrieved from http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/jurisprudence/1997/mar1997/121917.htm