MANILA – House Speaker Prospero C. Nograles is urging the Senate to give priority to the passage of its own version of the loose firearms which imposes stiffer penalties for firearms-related crimes.
Recently passed by the House of Representatives was HB 6658, which provides stiffer fines and imprisonment for unlawful possession, acquisition, manufacture, dealing, acquisition or disposition of firearms, ammunitions and legitimate weapons.
With the election campaign period over two months away, Nograles said, “Philippine politics is not without the taints of violence and bloodshed,” noting that gun owners, including those with expired licenses, should no longer have any excuse in their failure to secure license for their firearms because the failing to license their firearms because the Philippine National Police (PNP) has just extended the government’s amnesty program.
The bill, if enacted, “would arm law enforcement agencies and prosecutors with more teeth to prosecute violators effectively,” he said.
He also called on the police and other law enforcement agencies to bring their campaign against loose firearms, known as Operation Bakal, to the provinces where unlicensed firearms are proliferating and are often used in various criminal and insurgent activities.
“We strongly support Operation Bakal,” the Speaker assured, “which the PNP is executing in coordination with other law enforcement agencies, especially at a time when the election campaign period is just around the corner.”
Pedro P. Romualdo of Camiguin and Antonio Cuenco of Cebu, two of the sponsors of the the House measure on loose firearms issued a joint statement saying the enactment of the bill “would reduce, if not totally eliminate, loose firearms and help establish a society of responsible gun holders who register their firearms.”
Other major proponents of the bill included congressmen Eufrocino M. Codilla Sr., Carmelo Lazatin, Amado Bagatsing, Roque Ablan, Junie Cua, Candido Pancrudo and Deputy Speakers Raul del Mar and Arnulfo Fuentebella.
The House Committee on Public Order and Safety chaired by Rep. Rodolfo Antonino of Nueva Ecija spearheaded the bill’s final passage.