LICENSED gun holders in the country are pinning their hopes that Congress this year will approve former Philippine National Police chief-turned Senator Ronald ‘Bato’ M. de la Rosa’s bill that will extend the validity of their firearm registration papers.
Sen. dela Rosa filed Senate Bill No. 1155 entitled ‘An Act Fixing the Validity Period of the License to Own and Possess, Permit to Carry Outside of Residence or Place of Business and Registration of Firearms’ which responsible gun holders who are religiously renewing their gun papers hailed.
The former PNP chief’s move comes in the wake of the PNP’s continuing proposal to implement a nationwide gun amnesty to account for over a million unregistered weapons over the past five years including those with expired licenses which are now considered as loose firearms.
According to Sen. dela Rosa, his bill which will make some amendments to RA 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act of 2013 will surely boost government revenue as it will attract more people to register their guns.
The measure aims to effectively account for all loose firearms. The proposed amendment also seeks to extend the validity period of the Permit To Carry Firearms from one year to two years.
Sen. dela Rosa, the chair of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs said that during his consultative talks with different stakeholders, none have aired disapproval over his proposal.
“Even sa side ng law enforcement wala kaming nakitang disadvantage as it will encourage more gun owners to renew their licenses promptly,” he said.
“Per observation ng PNP malaki ang nawala, yung hindi nagpa-register ng baril nila because of the very short period of validity and numerous, bundok-bundok na requirements na very discouraging on the part of the gun owners that resulted to a big number of loose firearms,” he said.
“So para ma-account yun, i-liberalize natin yung process at yung requirements para babalik sila at revenue ito on the part of the government at matutulungan pa natin yung gun owners para hindi maging criminal. We help them to be law-abiding citizens,” he added.
Once the measure is passed into law, firearms registration validity will become five years from the previous four years. Sen. dela Rosa said it is likewise very practical to set a longer validity period for License to Own and Possess Firearms (LTOPF).
“This will fundamentally extend the capability of the gun owner to be responsible and his capacity to defend himself and his loved ones,” he said. One salient provision of the bill is one that will make an LTOFP valid for five years which should be renewed on the date of birth of the LTOFP holder.
The senator said this would serve as an easy reminder on the part of the licensee. However, the bill would be very strict when it comes to non-registration of firearms before their expiration period.
When RA 10591 was enacted into law in May 2013, the PNP leadership advised holders of firearms with expired licenses to renew their registration since their failure to do so will prompt the police to seize the weapons and file criminal charges against delinquent firearm holders.
The PNP also launched its vaunted Oplan: Katok in which uniformed police officers knock on the door of owners of firearms with expired licenses and appeal to them to renew their registration although the campaign failed to produce significant result since at present, there are still around 1.2 million holders of expired firearms licenses who have not renewed their licenses.
Former PNP Firearms and Explosives Office director and now Police Regional Office 7 director in Central Visayas, Brigadier General Valeriano T. de Leon, the official who started issuing ‘Provisional License to Own and Possess Firearms’ to make it easy for gunholders to renew their licenses also recommended a nationwide gun amnesty program in a major bid to reduce loose firearms that are being used as a tool to commit crimes in the streets.
De Leon said that the amnesty program will cover an estimated 1.2 million holders of registered firearms’ licenses who have failed to register them since 2014.
The official said that their records will show that there were 1.8 million registered firearms in 2014 but since then, only 600,000 have renewed their licenses with the PNP-FEO.
The Philippines already has one of the toughest gun policies in the world. A Permit to Carry Firearms Outside of Residence or Place of Business (PTCFOR) now cost P6,000 each and the required LTOPF at a minimum P1,000 and a high of P10,000 depending on the number of registered weapons.