22 September 2010
Press Release, Ang Kapatiran Party
Pro-Life Philippines Foundation, Inc. (Pro-Life), ABA Party-List and Ang Kapatiran Party (AKP) on Tuesday, 21 September 2010 petitioned the House of Representatives to enact the Citizen Protection Act of 2010 – an Act to Regulate the Bearing of Firearms and Deadly Weapons in Public Places, Provide Penalties for its Violation, Provide General Amnesty and Financial Rewards for Voluntary Surrender and Decommissioning of the Same and Appropriate Funds Therefor, and for Other Purposes.
The petition is also supported by heads of other people’s organizations and concerned individuals, who among others include: Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas President Edgardo J.T. Tirona, Couples for Christ-FFL President Frank Padilla, Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals President Lorenzo E. Veloso, Institute for Studies in Asian Church and Culture President Dr. Melba P. Maggay, Kalayaan College President/Movement for a Nonkilling Philippines Convenor Jose V. Abueva, Gunless Society Founder Nandy Pacheco, Radio Veritas President Fr. Anton Pascual, Former Senator Ramon B. Magsaysay, Jr., Former Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr., Former Senator Wigberto Tanada, Former PNP Chief Raul Imperial, Olympic Shooter Arturo Macapagal, Carmelites of Cebu Srs. Mary Lawrence and Mary Josephine, and 86 Catholic Bishops of the Philippines including Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales and Cardinal Ricardo Vidal.
Significantly, the Citizen Protection Act of 2010 has the same objective as the “Anti-Deadly Weapons Act of 1991” that was certified as urgent on October 4, 1991 by President Corazon C. Aquino for immediate enactment by Congress following the murder of Eldon Maguan by Rolito Go on 2 July of the same year and subsequent murders of Maureen Hultman and companion, 13 days later by Claudio Teehankee.
The “Anti-Deadly Weapons Act of 1991” was a consolidation of SB 1792 sponsored by Senators Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and Alberto Romulo, and HB 34057 sponsored by Congressman Bonifacio Gillego.
In response to President Corazon Aquino’s message, the Senate acted swiftly to pass the bill, but in the House the bill was “gunned down” by the committee on public order and safety.
The proposed Act also draws relevant provisions from Comelec Resolution No. 8714, the practical effect of which was demonstrated and successfully implemented by the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the May 10, 2010 elections.
AKP Secretary-General Norman Cabrera said, “If the ‘Comelec gun ban’ was successful during the election period from Jan. 10 to Jun. 9, 2010, there is no reason why a similar gun ban or gun control cannot be implemented during the off-election period.”
“The possession in public places of firearms and deadly weapons should be authorized only for those directly and primarily engaged in police, military, or security services. And even then, only to enforce the law under strict and clearly defined guidelines. The Act does not in any way impair the privilege of responsible and qualified citizens to keep licensed firearms at home or sports clubs,” Cabrera added.
Statistics from the PNP showed that from 2004 to 2008, 97.7 percent of gun-related crimes involved loose firearms, making the Philippines 10th in gun homicide rates worldwide.
The PNP had also cited that the incidence of crime in the country fell by nearly 70 percent during the first half of the year as compared to the same period in 2009, from 502,655 reported crimes to 157,674 cases nationwide, due mainly to the imposition of the five-month gun ban in connection with the May 10 elections.
In an earlier attempt of the PNP to seek for the extension of the gun ban, recently retired Chief Director General Jesus Versosa said, “What we want to implement are measures to control if not eradicate the presence of firearms in the streets and unauthorized areas or places because we cannot allow our country to have a proliferation of firearms of which we all know are the main instruments of violence here in the Philippines.”
“Not only violence but also the main instruments being used by threat groups that are around, like the CPP-NPA, the renegade MNLF and MILF, the ASG, you name it. And even the syndicates,” Verzosa added.
Nature of the Petition
The petition of Pro-Life, ABA and AKP was filed through the indirect initiative provision pursuant to Sections 3(b) and 11 of Republic Act No. 6735 or the Initiative and Referendum Act, which was passed on August 4, 1989 during the term of President Corazon Aquino.
Section 3(b) states, “’Indirect initiative’ is the exercise of initiative by the people through a proposition sent to Congress or the local legislative body for action.”
Section 11 states, “Indirect Initiative. — Any duly accredited people’s organization, as defined by law, may file a petition for indirect initiative with the House of Representatives, and other legislative bodies. The petition shall contain a summary of the chief purposes and contents of the bill that the organization proposes to be enacted into law by the legislature. The procedure to be followed on the initiative bill shall be the same as the enactment of any legislative measure before the House of Representatives except that the said initiative bill shall have precedence over the pending legislative measures on the committee.”
International Day of Peace
“This day is truly significant and symbolic because on this ‘Peace Day,’ Filipinos share with the world this practical act of peace that we hope our representatives in Congress will heed,” declared Marita Wasan, Executive Director of Pro-Life, a non-profit organization of citizens who are concerned about issues pertaining to the inherent value and dignity of human life.
September 21 is the International Day of Peace, which was established by a United Nations resolution in 1981 to coincide with the opening of the UN General Assembly. It provides an opportunity for individuals, organizations and nations to create practical acts of peace on a shared date.
Co-petitioner ABA Party-List Chair and Former Congressman Leonardo Montemayor said, “This Act is long overdue. We must recognize that guns in this country do not just kill Filipinos and foreigners, they also kill the country’s standing and reputation. Each massacre, each killing undermines the Philippines in the eyes of the international community and acts as a serious disincentive for foreign investors. It is high time we build a culture of peace.”