THE Philippine National Police leadership yesterday maintained that its ongoing Oplan: Katok is sparing no one as part of its program to account for loose firearms which can be used to commit violence in the streets.
PNP spokesman, Colonel Bernard M. Banac emphasized that police are not zeroing in on broadcaster Erwin Tulfo when they asked the latter to surrender his licensed firearms after his License to Own and Possess Firearm or LTOFP expired last month and said that the same letter-request is being given to all licensed Filipino gun-owners with expired LTOFP and firearm licenses.
“Hindi naman pinag-iinitan si Erwin Tulfo. In fact, ito’y ginagawa sa lahat ng responsible gun owners sa buong bansa. Lahat po ng mga owners natin na ang kanilang lisensiya ay paso na ay pinapadalhan ng sulat na nagpapaalala sa kanilang responsibility na magpa-renew ng lisensiya,” the PNP spokesperson said.
As part of the strict enforcement of the PNP Oplan: Katok, Director General Oscar D. Albayalde has ordered his uniformed officers to knock on the doors of gun-holders with expired firearm licenses and request them to renew their permits within a given period.
Those who cannot immediately renew their firearm licenses for various reasons are requested to temporarily turnover their guns to the nearest police station or the PNP Firearms and Explosives Office for temporary safekeeping until they have renewed their papers.
The deposited firearms are issued necessary safekeeping papers and inventory receipt before being kept in a police storage facility for immediate return to their owners as soon as he/she presents the renewed gun papers.
Dozens of owners of licensed firearms with expired licenses who failed to renew their permits after being visited by policemen conducting the Oplan: Katok have found themselves being subjected to search warrants since their guns are already considered loose firearms and thus, are subject for confiscation. However, there were hundreds of others who have surrendered their licensed guns with expired licenses to the police for temporary safekeeping.
Banac said Tulfo is just only one of the hundreds if not thousands of Filipino licensed gun-holders with expired LTOFPs. “Marami na ang paso ang licenses gawa ng nature ng mga trabaho ng gun owners. Busy ang mga tao. ‘Yung iba nasa abroad. Hindi nila agad magampanan ang renewal,” he said.
He advised gun-holders to see to it that start renewing their LTOFP and other gun papers at least six months before their actual expiration. The period is needed since the applicant has to get necessary documents including a National Bureau of Investigation clearance as well as a mandatory drug and neuro-psychiatric test.
Before the start of the election period last January 12, National Capital Region Police Office director, Major General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar also called on Metro Manila residents with expired firearms licenses to surrender them to the local police for safekeeping and to keep them away from trouble with the law.
Eleazar has ordered all five NCRPO districts to further step-up their implementation of the PNP Oplan: Katok wherein uniformed officers knock on the doors of gun owners with expired licenses to courteously remind them of their duty to renew their licenses and permits on time.
“Ang ating sinasabi sa kanila ay ito’y pansamantalang i-turn over sa atin for safekeeping sa ating mga pulis at tutulungan na rin nating ma-facilitate itong pagre-renew ng kanilang firearms,” Eleazar told the Journal Group.
Eleazar assured owners they will not be charged or arrested for having expired licenses provided that they make all efforts to renew them.
There are over a million unregistered firearms in the country including those owned by private individuals and juridical entities which include government security offices, local government units and private security agencies.
Under the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulations Act of 2013, an LTOFP can be given only to a Filipino citizen who is at least 21 years old at the time he applies for a gun permit provided he has a gainful work, occupation, or business or has filed an Income Tax Return (ITR) for the preceding year as proof of income, profession, business or occupation.
The law says that failure to renew the registration of a Class-A light weapon or comply with the standards and requirements for renewal purposes shall be a ground for the cancellation of the registration.
In case of revocation of license and cancellation of registration, the individual concerned shall surrender the weapons herein mentioned to the nearest police station within 30 days, except when there are other justifying circumstances. Otherwise, he/she could be charged for violation of the law.
RA 10591 states that all types of licenses to own and possess a firearm shall be renewed every two years within six months before the birthdate of the licensee. Failure to renew the license on or before the birthdate shall cause the revocation of the license and of the registration of the firearm/s under said license.
It also says that the registration of the firearm shall be renewed every four years within six months before its expiration. Failure to renew the registration of the firearm on or before the expiration of its registration shall cause the revocation of the registration of the firearm and the same shall be subject to revocation proceedings.
RA 10591 says that failure to renew a license or registration within the period stated above on two occasions shall cause the holder of the firearm to be perpetually disqualified from applying for firearm license.
Lastly, it say that “it shall be the obligation of the licensee thereof to surrender the said firearm to the police office or station with jurisdiction over the place where he/she resides within 15 days. Failure to surrender within such period shall cause the filing of appropriate charges for violation of the law.