PNP eyes gun amnesty program in August over high-profile killings
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Philippine National Police (PNP) is eyeing the implementation of a nationwide gun amnesty program in August following the spate of high-profile killings in the country.
PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde announced this on Thursday, July 12, a day after the slay of another local official – Vice Mayor Al Rashid Mohammad Ali of Sapa-Sapa town, Tawi-Tawi.
"We know that every time that there are shooting incidents, loose and unregistered firearms are used," Albayalde told reporters in an ambush interview in a mix of English and Filipino.
"That's why we are really concerned on this and we [want] to minimize the possession of loose firearms in the country. That's why we are trying to account for this," he added.
What is a gun amnesty? People who avail of a gun amnesty can't be apprehended and fined for bearing unregistered firearms. Instead, their guns are processed for registration or confiscation.
There are two important permits – the license to own and possess firearm (LTOPF) valid for two years, and the firearms registration license for the gun valid for 4 years, then renewed every two years. (READ: Want to own a gun? Here's how easy it is)
Albayalde said the PNP estimates that there are around one million loose firearms in the country, and a number of them, he said, may be in the hands of people with "criminal minds."
How would it be done? Speaking to Rappler in a phone interview on Thursday, PNP Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO) head Chief Superintendent Valeriano de Leon said they want local police stations to act as their satellite offices in gathering unregistered firearms.
"The would-be applicant would go to the police station and the police station will issue a 'special permit to transfer'," De Leon said.
This special permit, De Leon said, would allow them to turn over their unregistered firearms to cops without apprehension. Upon surrender of their guns, they would fill up the paperwork for renewal of permits.
Provincial police offices would then consolidate the papers and firearms then put them through ballistics examinations.
The results and papers would then be passed over to the regional police headquarters, where the Deputy Regional Director for Operations—the top 3 cop in the region—would lead the firearms committee in deciding which permits should be granted.
The PNP still has no plan, De Leon said, for how they would encourage people to surrender their guns—particularly those whom the police believe have criminal intentions.
The top cop said, for one, that the gun obtained from the suspects in the killing of General Tinio Mayor Ferdinand Bote had no papers.
It has yet to be established, however, whether the guns used in the other assassinations were unregistered.
In a span of 8 days, at least 5 local officials were gunned down. (GALLERY: Culture of impunity: Who are mayors, vice mayors killed under Duterte?)
Albayalde earlier said that the assassinations of local officials were "coincidental," citing the different motives in the cases, though the police have yet to establish any motives for the killings. – Rappler.com