Citizens can own as many assault rifles as they want

by Jojo Malig,

Posted at Oct 10 2011 11:26 PM | Updated as of Oct 11 2011 10:01 PM

Citizens can own as many assault rifles as they want 1
Assault rifles

Erap EO lifted limits on gun ownership, says PNP official

MANILA, Philippines - Civilians can own as many high-powered assault rifles as they want, a Philippine National Police (PNP) official said Monday.

The only hitch? People may be allowed to carry only one gun in public, said Chief Superintendent Napoleon Estilles, chief of the PNP Firearms and Explosives Division.

He told radio dzMM's "Dos por Dos" that Malacañang, under the former Estrada administration, issued Executive Order (EO) 194 that lifted the limits on gun ownership in the country.

"Noong una po, ang patakaran, hanggang 10. Pero nung lumabas po iyun EO 194 na sinundan po nung isang circular galing PNP, bale inalis na po iyung limit kung ilan po ang magkakaroon ng lisensiyadong baril ang isang tao," he said.

Estilles added that the only requirement is that  the firearms must be registered with police.

The police issues licenses and permits-to-carry for high-powered assault rifles like the AK-47 and the M-16, he said.

More powerful weapons, however, are still banned.

"Iyun pong gaya ng mga machine gun, M203, grenade launcher, hindi po iyun puwede. Iyung mga mga sniper rifle na caliber .50, hindi po iyun pupuwede," Estilles said.

He explained that assault weapons, like the AK-47, fall  under the high-powered rifle category.  "Puedeng lisensiyahan po iyon."

Meanwhile, no ownership are permits given by the PNP for more powerful weapons. "Light machine guns like gaya ng .50 caliber, M60. Belted po siya deredeterso po putok noon."

He said high-caliber machine guns mounted on vehicles are also banned. "Iyon po ang bawal. Hindi na po iyon puwedeng lisensiyahan namin"

No limit on assault weapons

Estilles said no limit is also placed on the number of licensed AK-47s or M-16s that a civilian can own. "Wala rin pong limit sa high-powered (assault rifles kung ilan)."

However, he quickly added that people won't be able to bring the guns outside their home unless they have a permit to carry.

"Puedeng isyuhan ng permit to carry lahat ng baril na iyon, pero isa lang ang puwede niyang dalhin," the police official said.

"Halimbawa, may 5 ka pong hand guns, puwede mo pong aplayan ng permit iyon, pero hindi mo naman sabay-sabay na madadala iyon... na papayagan naming dalhin," he explained.

He said police issued permits-to-carry for high-powered rifles, depending on the qualifications and needs of applicants.

"Mga governor or (Cabinet) secretary... pinagbibigyan po iyon," he said.

Estilles said the only difference on the regulation between between hand guns and high-powered assault is the probability of people getting permits to bring them out. "Kung ano po iyung (license) requirements sa handguns, ganoon din po sa high-powered firearms."

"Matagal na po itong pinatutupad namin,"  he said, citing Estrada's EO 194.

He said rising criminality during the period may have prompted the Palace to issue the EO.

Estilles also mentioned the shortage in the number of police officers who can serve as security personnel of high-profile officials.

He cited the low police-to-civilian ratio in the country, as well as lack of police presence in some areas.

"Siguro po, mas maganda kung civilians magkaroon ng baril, basta lisensiyado lang," he said. "Iyung mga gun store, alam na rin po nila procedure. May mga application permits na roon, iyung mga requirements. Dapat pagbibilhan nila iyung mga legitimate gun dealers."

Llamas case

The PNP Firearms and Explosives Division chief issued the statements after guns were found in the possession of 2 employees of Presidential Political Adviser Ronaldo Llamas.

Estilles said Llamas has a license and a permit to carry for the AK-47 found inside his sports utility vehicle (SUV) that figured in an accident Friday.

He explained that the only problem was that Llamas was not the one carrying the weapon. "Iyon nga po ang problema."

He said the responsibility lies in the 2 employees who brought the guns with them.

"Iyon pong dalawang iyon, inutusan na po ako ni chief PNP [Director-General Nicanor Bartolome] na criminal aspect ng case na ito ay pag-aralan na po at imbestigahan ng QCPD [Quezon City Police District]."

He said the 2 men can be charged with illegal possession of firearms.

"Iyon pong sa akin naman, iyung administrative liability... puwede po naming isubject for revocation iyung license for firearms," Estilles said. "Iyon po ang plano naming gawin."