Thursday, 15 October 2009 22:13
VOTING 140-3, the House of Representatives, in plenary session, approved on third and final reading on Thursday a bill that imposes stricter gun policies that licensed gun holders and enthusiasts described as the alleged revival of a Marcos-era decree to address the worsening problem on loose firearms.
House Bill 6776, authored by Lakas-Kampi-CMD Rep. Pedro Romualdo of Camiguin, seeks to restore the stiff penalties for the illegal possession, manufacture and sale of firearms, ammunition and explosives that was imposed during the term of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
Bagong Lakas ng Nueva Ecija Rep. Eduardo Nonato Joson, one of the three who voted against the approval of the antigun measure, described it as a “useless measure ” that will fail to put an end to a culture of violence in the country.
“There must be a change of policy from the rule of violence to the rule of law; from a culture of death to a culture of life; and the rule of reason over the law of the jungle. What we need is a total gun ban to end violence,” said Joson.
But Romualdo said the bill is expected to solve the proliferation of loose firearms and explosives and their manufacture.
Among others, the bill seeks to impose the maximum penalty of life imprisonment for possession of illegal firearms; and six to 18 years’ imprisonment for illegal possession of ammunition, which is defined, among others, to include blank ammunition and noxious liquids and gases.
It also provides a presumption that any group of three or more persons is considered a criminal syndicate if one of them carries an unlicensed firearm or light weapon.
Under the bill, stiff prison terms will be imposed on unlawful possession or acquisition of firearms; carrying of firearms outside of residence without authority; and unlawful possession or acquisition of ammunition, components and other parts of firearms.
Under the bill, airsoft guns as well as gas- or spring-operated pistols and rifles are now classified as real firearms requiring licensing and permit to carry just like regular firearms.
Illegal possession of firearms shall now be considered as a separate and distinct penalty if any other crime is committed in the same act. Thus, a person can be charged twice for the same act and be slapped with two penalties.
“Light weapons” are now defined as weapons capable of holding a “drum” magazine, which would include practically all semi-auto rifles, including rimfire caliber .22s.
Several groups of gun enthusiasts and licensed firearms holders said these antigun policies of the government were a result of a lobby by the antigun group International Action Network on Small Arms. The said group is reportedly very active in lobbying for antigun measures not only in the country but worldwide.
The group is said to be well-funded and well-connected, internationally, the reason government officials are giving in to its pressure.