Owners of unlicensed firearms in the Philippines can now rejoice as police finally approved the regulations of a year-long amnesty for the benefit of owners of unregistered guns that was approved by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as early as December last year.
“The [implementing rules and regulations] stipulates that the basic qualifications of applicants must be: Filipino citizens who are at least 21 years old and judicial entities authorized by law to possess firearms. Likewise, an applicant for a license to possess unregistered or loose guns shall first secure a Permit to Transport (PTT) before carrying the said firearm and ammunition from its location.”
Aside from obtaining the PTT, what are the other rules? By the numbers then:
- After securing the PTT, the applicant shall properly wrap and label the firearm and ammunition and submit them to FED, CSG or the police office where the PTT was issued.
- The FED, CSG or the concerned police office shall then submit the firearm to the nearest PNP Crime Laboratory for stencil tracing and test firing, and for forensic ballistics sample at the expense of the applicant.
- After the stencil has been taken and the test firing conducted, the firearm shall be transmitted back to FED, or to the concerned CPO, PPO, and PRO that shall issue the order of payment for licensing.
- The applicant shall then file with the ED or the police office concerned his/her duly accomplished application form together with the ballistics test-firing and stencil certificate, firearms bond, Special Bank receipts (SBR) and other required documents.
What are the requirements that an amnesty applicant must submit to police?
- Proof of citizenship/birth certificate
- Proof of identity/name, proof of address/billing
- Proof of qualification/profession/vocation
- Police and NBI clearances
- Neuro-psychiatric evaluation
- Drug test result
- Certificate of training/seminar on gun handling and safety
These are precisely the same requirements sought from a license applicant who legitimately acquired his firearm from authorized retailers.
This amnesty is unique in that it extends to the citizen who wants to return to the fold of the law the opportunity to legitimize his ownership of such small arms as machine pistols, submachine guns, and assault rifles, as well as hunting and sporting rifles larger than .22 caliber, although the licensing of the same is wholly discretionary on the part of the chief of the Philippine National Police. Given the fair number of automatic weapons previously legitimized under past amnesty programs, it’s a fair bet that the Chief, PNP will be liberal in approving such applications.
This makes the Philippines probably the only country in southeast Asia that permits its citizens to possess such firepower. Even the United States itself has very strict rules regarding who can own full-auto weapons.
This is not to say that owning an automatic weapon is an affordable proposition in this country. As I noted in a previous entry, such weapons cost an arm and a leg even when legally purchased from authorized gun stores. Add to that the expensive cost of ammunition and you’ll soon realize that ownership of such firearms is feasible only to the wealthy.
For those who can afford an automatic weapon, the firearm of choice is a M4 carbine, derived from the M16 assault rifle that is the standard-issue infantry rifle of the Philippines’ armed forces. The wide availability of 5.56 x 45 mm. ammunition, spare parts and accessories, as well as the familiarity of Philippine armorers with the M16 and its direct impingement system contribute to its popularity among aficionados.
How much will the amnesty cost?
- PHP 2,000 for the license to possess firearms, which include a .22 caliber rifle, shotgun (all gauges), and all handguns (pistols/revolvers), from .22 caliber, to .38 caliber, or 9 mm.
- PHP 3,000 for the license to possess high powered firearms or rifles and all other handguns.
The amnesty period will expire on
June 13, 2008 November 13, 2008.
Philippine gun control advocates will no doubt be displeased at the government’s generous offer:
“But Nandy Pacheco of the Gunless Society said an amnesty would put more guns in the hands of more people.
““We want guns to disappear. And then you will have something like this where anyone can surrender guns and have it licensed. The criminal liability attached to the gun is erased. Gun control should be absolute,” Pacheco said.
“He said citizens holding guns had no place in “civilized countries.”
““In the solving the problem, we make the problem worse. We must admit the truth, that guns are meant to maim and kill. The fewer the people who have them, the better,” he said.”
I don’t know if Mr. Pacheco realizes why many Filipinos want to own guns in the first place. According to The Belmont Club:
“Much of the motivation for getting a private firearm in is rooted in a distrust of the police. In the BBC article, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo expresses the desire to restrict gun ownership to the police and the military. But “when asked about corrupt policeman linked to crime gangs, she promised to “jail the rascals in uniform”. Very few people believe that assurance, least of all “movie stars, judges and politicians” and so they continue to get their private weaponry.”
It’s interesting to note that President Arroyo never repeated her 2003 remarks about tightening Philippine gun ownership laws again.
Another group that will not like the amnesty? Gun shop owners themselves:
“On the other hand, [Association of Firearms Dealers president] Hector Rodriguez Jr. thinks frequent amnesty programs simply send the wrong signal. He says people are encouraged to buy guns from shady sources— expecting to have them legalized when convenient. He goes on to say, that this practice actually helps sustain illegal gun dealers. Of course, this may be a self-serving statement coming from a businessman protecting his market— but he does have a good point.”