Holiday gun ban? Aquino to discuss plan
MANILA, Philippines – After the death of 7-year-old Stephanie Nicole Ella, will President Benigno Aquino III push for a holiday gun ban?
Malacañang said proposals to impose a gun ban during the Christmas holidays will have to be discussed with Aquino.
The Palace said Aquino will also have to weigh in on calls for tighter gun control following Ella’s death and that of other children who became victims of stray bullets during the New Year revelry.
“Both will have to be discussed with the President given the way that commentaries have been going because of the recent incidents. This is something that we will have to discuss with the President,” said Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte on Friday, January 4.
Valte said that while there is a gun ban in place for the election period, the proposed holiday ban is still subject to debate.
She also denied speculation that Aquino will not support the move because he is a gun enthusiast.
“I think that is an unwarranted assumption... The President is a smoker but he pushed very hard for the sin tax [reform] law,” Valte said.
Ella died on Wednesday, January 2, 38 hours after she was hit by a stray bullet in the head in Caloocan City. The Palace called her death senseless, urging Filipinos to celebrate the holidays responsibly.
A stray bullet also killed 4-year-old Ranjelo Nemor in Mandaluyong on January 1.While Valte was holding the press conference Friday, a gunman went amok in Kawit, Cavite, killing at least 4 people.
Gun control advocates including anti-crime crusader Dante Jimenez have called for a holiday gun ban.
“There should be no guns on the streets during these times. That is the only way,” Jimenez said.
Jimenez has said though that the bigger problem is authorities’ failure to seize illegal firearms, which can be easily acquired in the black market.
Vice President Jejomar Binay also said the problem was not legislation but the enforcement of laws on loose firearms.
Police data showed there were 1.2 million registered firearms in the Philippines as of last year while there are about 600,000 unlicensed firearms in circulation.
Valte said the police are conducting a “systematic investigation” to identify the person behind Ella’s shooting.
“So far, the PNP is moving as they should and we remind the public that at least they are crossing off all the possible leads that will go cold,” she said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Echoing the police, Valte denied reports that Jun Agus, a military reservist, and 3 others arrested on Thursday, December 3, have been cleared.
Chief Supt Raul Petrasanta, PNP-FEO chief, has said that while initial ballistics examination showed that the gun Agus and his friends fired on New Year’s eve did not match that of the slug recovered from Ella, it was still possible Agus altered some of the pistol’s parts.
Valte said, “[Police] will also press charges against Agus for indiscriminate firing. He admitted firing his gun. He has a gun and fired it at that time. While it is not the same gun that fired the bullet that led to the demise of Stephanie, that is still a crime in and of itself.”
Police are also investigating at least 45 registered owners of caliber 45 pistols said to be living within the vicinity of Ella’s Caloocan home. – Rappler.com
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