Groups claim new gun law won’t resolve killings

Feb. 06, 2014

Davao Today

DAVAO CITY– Many sectoral groups here claimed that the newly signed gun law, Republic Act 10591, will not solve the spate of killings in the country.

Bishop Antonio Nercua Ablon of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente in Pagadian City, told Davao Today that the new gun law, also known as the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act, would only increase human rights violations as it becomes “an open invitation to civilians to own a gun”.

“It is not the arming of the people that makes them safe from any harm. Through this law, the Aquino government passes on to us (civilians) the task of securing ourselves which is primarily the concern and sole duty of the government,”Ablon explained.

Republic Act 10591 was signed on May 29 last year, and states that it “recognizes the right of qualified citizens to self-defense through the use of firearms, under certain circumstances”.

The government said the high rate of criminality that prompted many civilians to seek protection with guns has also make black market of weapons thriving. About 1.2 million guns were registered in 2012; but 600,000 loose firearms were in circulation.

Ablon said that the gun law would only contribute to the rising criminal rate “because owning a gun couldn’t give us the assurance that it will deter crimes”.

The new gun law “allows profession, occupation or business to carry firearm which considered in imminent danger due to the nature of their jobs. These includes accountants, accredited journalists, cashiers, bank tellers, businessmen, cashiers, engineers, imams, lawyers, ministers, nurses, physicians, priests, and rabbis”.

Carlos Conde, Human Rights Watch’s researcher, said that only a working “criminal justice system where perpetrators of human rights violations are arrested, charged and tried could resolve the killings
particularly among the members of the media’.

Conde said the law “only tightens the legally permissible ownership, carrying of firearms and control of loose firearms”. He said, however, that it would not thwart criminals from committing crimes even if they knew that the law permits gun owners to invoke self-defense when using their guns.

“Criminal justice system must work as it should within the bounds of our Constitution. The Aquino government until know manifests no real improvement and commitment to solve the unabated killings. The climate and culture of impunity still reign,” Conde stressed.

Human Rights Watch said that under the President Benigno Aquino III’s watch, Philippines ranked second after Syria as the most dangerous country for journalists.  The group noted also that justice has not yet been given to the human rights victims in the country.

Meanwhile, Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ, President of Ateneo de Davao University, said that caution must be observed in the implementation of this Act, “to prevent a dangerous illegitimate proliferation of firearms and their socially harmful or lethal use”.

The ideal situation, he said, “is where the authority to carry and use firearms in a possibly lethal manner is left to recognized trained and disciplined law enforcement authorities”.

“In our less-than-ideal situation, effective self-defense is a moral and legal option.  RA 10591 provides for the stringent conditions under which that option might be legally taken.  In the enforcement of this law, these stringent conditions should not be watered down,” Tabora said.

The Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said that civilians including religious people are supposed to be men of peace, not of war.  (Mart D.Sambalud/

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