Absence of full-time PNP chief affecting police services

By Cecille Suerte Felipe, The Philippine Star

Posted at Apr 20 2015 09:52 AM | Updated as of Apr 20 2015 05:53 PM

MANILA - Despite the pronouncement of the leadership of the Philippine National Police that it’s business as usual, some basic services are undeniably affected by the absence of a full-time PNP chief, particularly the issuance of gun permits.

The PNP had deferred the issuance of permits to carry firearms outside residence (PTCFOR) since Dec. 3, a day before the Office of the Ombudsman slapped a six-month suspension on former PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima, who is facing plunder charges.

Purisima was later forced to resign as PNP chief amid the public outcry over his participation in the botched operation of the PNP Special Action Force (SAF) that resulted in the killing of 44 police commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25.

President Aquino has yet to appoint a full-time PNP chief as Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina continues to serve as officer-in-charge but has apparently no authority to sign the PTCFOR.

A PTCFOR is the document issued by PNP to gun owners to authorize them to carry their firearms wherever they go for their protection. A PTCFOR is given only to individuals with serious threats to their safety and the permit costs over P6,000.

A PTCFOR is different from a firearm license, which is mandatory for all firearms holders to secure from the PNP Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO).

A source told The STAR that the PTCFOR secretariat under Senior Superintendent Ronald Lee has stopped issuing the gun permits in the absence of a full-time PNP chief authorized by law to sign such permits.

However, under Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive Law on Gun Control, all gun holders should secure a license to own and possess firearms (LTOPF) before they can have their firearms registered and licensed.

The FEO reported that there were about 1.6 million firearms registered with their agency, some of which have expired licenses and the owners failed to renew the registration of the firearms.

With an expired license, a gun is considered loose or illegal and its holder could face arrest.

Gun owners maintained that the requirements for the LTOPF are excessive and discourage responsible gun owners holders from complying with the law.

The LTOPF requires gun holders to produce a written application to own and possess firearm/s plus several other documents, including clearances issued by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) and Municipal/Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC), neuropsychiatric clearance, drug test, gun safety certificate, police clearance, a birth certificate issued by the National Statistics Office or a passport, proof of latest billing, plus at least two government-issued identification cards.

Gun holders are also required to present their income tax return (ITR), certificate of employment, business permit or any appropriate document as proof of income to prove their capability to own and maintain a gun.

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