To: Philippine Congress and Senate
To all members of the Philippine Congress and Senate:
We, legitimate gun owners, Shooting Sports enthusiasts, Airsoft and paintball players, and Firearms dealers and manufacturers, join hands with all freedom-loving people in registering our vehement opposition to the passage of House Bill No: 6676 (originally House Bill No: 6658) authored by Congressmen Rodolfo W. Antonino, Pedro P. Romualdo, Antonio V. Cuenco, Eufrocino M. Codilla, Sr., Raul V. Del Mar, Carmelo F. Lazatin, Amado S. Bagatsing, Roque R. Ablan, Jr., Junie E. Cua, Arnulfo P. Fuentebella, and Candido P. Pancrudo. In the Senate, the counterpart bill is Senate Bill No: 3375 authored by Senator Antonio F. Trillanes IV. These bills propose ludicrous amendments the Philippines’ Firearms law, P.D. 1866, as amended.
We know that these bills are being fast-tracked and went through House committee hearing in a record time of 30 minutes flat without any opportunity for the invited resource speakers and stakeholders in the Philippine shooting community and industry to voice out their concerns and objections to the flawed provisions of the bills. A week later, without any consultation or participation of stakeholders and the public, despite loudly voiced objections, the Bill was approved by the House for 2nd Reading. We likewise know that there is now a twin effort in the Senate to do the same.
There are numerous grave concerns regarding legal and Constitutional flaws in these bills which have to be addressed. Also, a lot of the penalized acts stated in these Bills are already addressed by existing laws, namely PD 1866 as amended.
Consider the following:
1. The definition of “firearm” has been improperly expanded to include those which should not be considered as such. Airsoft guns and all gas, spring operated Pistols and rifles are now classified as TRUE FIREARMS, requiring licensing and Permit to carry just like regular firearms. Replicas and Toys are not true firearms.
2. If you are in a group and one of you is caught with a firearm or part thereof (with or without your knowledge) ALL OF YOU will be presumed to be in illegal possession of firearms, and shall be accordingly all charged. This is in violation of the Constitutional right to be presumed innocent, and due process.
3. Penalties have been uniformly INCREASED to Life Imprisonment for illegal possession and/or manufacture of firearms or light weapons, or 6-18 years for ammunition, and other lighter offenses. "Ammunition" is defined, among others, to include BLANK AMMUNITION, and NOXIOUS LIQUID AND GAS??!! Increasing penalties, no matter how heavy, does not solve crime. Moreover, increasing penalties will not make law enforcement more efficient.
4. "Light weapons" are now defined and prohibited, which includes any weapon capable of holding a DRUM magazine, which would include practically all semi-auto rifles, including rimfire 22's, as well as legitimate centerfire rifles.
5. The crime of illegal possession of firearms shall now be considered as a SEPARATE AND DISTINCT penalty if any other crime is commmitted in the same act. So you could be charged TWICE for the same act and be slapped with TWO
We in the Philippine shooting community, airsoft community, firearms industry, firearms NGO’s, as well as civil rights stalwarts would not want such haphazardly and poorly drafted Bills to pass on as legislation for the sake of expediency. We wish to assert our right to be heard.
The peace and order problem in the Philippines is not a gun problem. We already have enough laws on firearms. Rather, the problem is a lackadasical and inefficient enforcement of the laws and inept prosecution of criminals. The hopelessness of the poverty suffered by our people, social inequality and injustices, as well as lack of education are the root causes of crime in our country. These societal factors, when left unchecked as now, contribute more to crime rather than inanimate instruments such as guns.
Rather than concern ourselves with guns, let us instead concentrate on alleviating the plight of our millions of starving and uneducated Filipinos, the improvement of basic government services, stamping out corruption and inefficiency in government, and strengthening justice and the rule of law. These are the real problems facing the Philippines today.
With upcoming elections in 2010, it is sincerely hoped that our legislators would represent the interests of the people rather than please those who happen to be currently occupying the corridors of power in Malacanang, as well as foreign anti-gun interests.
Salus populi est surpema lex. Ultimately, the law of the people, is the supreme law.
NO TO HOUSE BILL NO. 6776 (formerly HB 6658) and Senate Bill No: 3375!!!
Sincerely, The Undersigned