MANILA, Philippines - Calls for stricter gun laws mount even as 20 bills on gun control remain in the doldrums in Congress amid rising deaths and injuries from firearms.
The proposed measures delve mainly on amending the laws governing the possession of firearms as well as provisions of the Revised Penal Code on firearms-related crimes.
However, none of these bills have gone past the first reading stage of the legislative process or the simple reading of the title and its referral to the concerned committee.
Close to 10 of the bills deal with the amendment of the provisions of Presidential Decree 1866 or what is known as the firearms law, and Republic Act 8294, which amended the former.
The most recent bill filed in January last year by Sen. Manuel Lapid called for the amendment of Article 254 of Title VIII, Chapter One of Act 3815 or the Revised Penal Code calling for stiffer penalties for the illegal discharge of firearms.
“The measure aims to provide for stiffer penalties on celebratory gunfire so as to altogether stop preventable deaths, which result from wanton and reckless acts by irresponsible individuals who have no regard for the interest and safety of others,” Lapid said in his Senate Bill 3114.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who was once chief of the Philippine National Police, filed a bill seeking the repeal of PD 1866 and the crafting of a comprehensive firearms and ammunition regulation law.
“The present day realities have rendered the Firearms Code or Presidential Decree No. 1866, as amended, obsolete and there is a need to overhaul it in order to be more responsive,” Lacson said in Senate Bill 2993.
“This bill is intended to minimize, if not totally eradicate, gun violence in the country. This legislation proposes to provide higher penalties for the illicit manufacturing of firearms and explosives; illegal and unauthorized possession of firearms outside of residence; regulate the import and export of firearms, ammunitions, parts of firearms and ammunitions,” he added.
Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Manuel Villar Jr., Ramon Revilla Jr. and Antonio Trillanes IV also filed separate bills calling for an amendment to PD 1866 and RA 8294. Santiago and her husband Narciso Santiago Jr. are gun enthusiasts. -- with Cristina Mendez