Palace: We need to update gun laws

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Malacañang says the DOJ is already behind moves to update gun control laws

UPDATING LAWS. Malacañang says the Justice Department is helping efforts to update the country's gun laws. The Palace said there is a need to update gun legislation following the death of stray bullet victims and a shooting rampage in Cavite. File photo of Stephanie Nicole Ella's wake

MANILA, Philippines – In the wake of stray bullet shootings and the deadly gun rampage in Cavite, Malacañang supported calls to update gun legislation.

In an interview over state-run Radyo ng Bayan on Saturday, January 5, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said the executive branch through the Justice Department is already working to help update gun laws.

Valte said the penalties in particular need to be changed.

“When it comes to stricter penalties, that is a question for legislation. We already have several crimes in place that address, for example, the alarming scandal. The penalty is P200 and you have to remember that the Revised Penal Code was enacted in 1901, I think. So it really has to be updated.”

“[This] is why the DOJ is working on updating the Revised Penal Code and that is not a secret. I think they’re working already on Book 1, on proposed revision to the Revised Penal Code,” Valte added.

Valte’s statements came amid the renewed gun control debate following the death of 7-year-old Stephanie Nicole Ella, who was hit by a stray bullet on the head on New Year’s Eve. A shooting rampage in Cavite on Friday, January 4, also left 8 dead people dead.

About 20 bills on gun control are pending in Congress, proposing changes to laws on the possession of firearms and the Revised Penal Code provisions on related crimes. The measures though are still in the early stages of legislation.

Despite calls for stricter gun laws, Vice President Jejomar Binay has said that the problem is not legislation but the enforcement of laws on loose firearms.

Anti-crime advocates have also said that the bigger problem is authorities’ failure to seize illegal firearms, which can be easily acquired in the black market.

Valte reiterated Saturday that calls for a total gun ban or a holiday gun ban will have to be discussed with President Benigno Aquino III first.

The deputy spokesperson also responded to the statement of Siquijor Rep Orlando Fua and gun control advocates that Aquino should set an example by kicking his shooting hobby. The President is a gun enthusiast.

“Perhaps, it would be better if we talk on the level of policy and not discuss the personal [pastimes] of the President,” Valte said in a mix of English and Filipino.

‘Further impetus for action’

Malacañang has condemned the death of Ella as “senseless,” calling on Filipinos to celebrate the holidays responsibly.

The Palace also deplored the shooting spree in Cavite.

Valte said, “This should provide again a further impetus for our officials of the PNP to further heighten their drive against illegal drugs.”

Cavite police said the gunman, Ronald Bae, was a drug user. Cavite Gov Juanito Victor Remulla also said Bae was a known drug dealer.

Valte also called on the Cavite police to fast-track its response time amid reports it took 30 minutes for the police to arrive on the crime scene. – Rappler.com

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