MANILA – Two prominent Filipino bishops have called on President Benigno S. Aquino and the rest of his Cabinet members to give up his guns and set an example for the public emulate, and for gun enthusiasts to follow.
Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz, one of the administration’s high-profile critics, said in an interview that “the President should be the model and must lead if he surrenders all his firearms.”
The statement came in the wake of incidents involving guns that resulted in the death of 23 persons. Last New Year’s Eve, a child was fatally hit by a stray bullet, and on Jan. 4, a drug-crazed man nine individuals, including a seven-year-old kid, were gunned down in Kawit, Cavite, a southern province.
On Jan. 7, thirteen suspected criminals were killed in a shootout at a checkpoint in Quezon, another province south of Metro Manila. Among those who were slain were three police officers, including a lieutenant colonel, a military man, and nine suspected accomplices.
In agreement, Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles favored the adoption of a total gun ban throughout the archipelago, saying any person with a firearm is always tempted to use it.
He said that “anybody with a gun, whoever he is, whether sensible or boastful… you have this intention to harm your fellowman, you think you are above him. And that’s bad.”
In reaction to the public uproar created by these recent gun-related incidents, a number of senators have already come out with proposals to revive the death penalty or impose a total gun ban.
Sen. Francis Escudero, following the position of President Benigno s. Aquino III, opposed the re-imposition of death penalty, saying this “will not stop miscreants from carrying out their crimes. I have always said that it is still the certainty of punishment, not its severity that will deter crimes.”
For his part, Sen. Panfilo Lacson proposed that civilian gun owners should not be given the authority to carry firearms outside their homes, stressing that guns “are for self-defense and protection of properties from intruders, and not for offensive action by the possessor.”
“When this happens,” he added, “a lot of lives can be saved and a big positive impact on the country's peace and order will be felt by the citizenry.”
Sen. Vicente Sotto III, on the other hand, wanted the imposition of a total gun ban would “not prevent a repeat of the bloodbath but would only exacerbate the already grave peace and order problem in our country.”
“If we outlaw guns,” he added, “then only the outlaws will have guns… The citizenry will be at the mercy of the criminal elements with high-powered guns at their disposal.”