Â Here in the Philippines, guns were confiscated under Marcos, and although one can get a permit, the average person doesn’t have permission to carry a gun.
That is not to say that the average person doesn’t have a gun: most middle class folks have one or two guns or rifles illegally stashed in their homes, and can be prosecuted if they are discovered. But here in the rural Philippines, it’s more like the wild west when it comes to protection: Yes, there are cops, and there are laws, but the cops aren’t always competent and the laws are often not enforced.
One result is that every large business has a security guard with a gun wandering around inside or at the door, for protection, and you get wanded or frisked by security guards and your purse/packages searched when you enter into malls.
That doesn’t stop all the robberies, of course, and a lot of the gun related deaths are shoot outs between cops and robbers.
Here, private murders, i.e. domestic violence or amok murders, usually involve machetes and other common objects, not guns, but the real problem is professional murders: killing rival gang members, civil officials, between political rivals, or hits on pesky reporters who dare to report on corruption.
But this doesn’t mean you are allowed to defend yourself, you know. There are strict gun control laws here in the Philippines, and checkpoints that are strictly enforced in the election season.
How strictly? well, our local internet news reports how one school principal got caught with weapons in his car.
Principal arrested for lack ofÂ permit to carry gun
An elementary school principal was arrested at a checkpoint in Barangay Mabini Homesite, Cabanatuan City for his failure to present a permit to carry a gun outside his home.
So why does a school principal need personal protection?
Story number two:
Zaragoza high school principal shot dead
The principal of Zaragoza National High School was shot and killed by a lone gunman in her residential compound in Aliaga…She was sweeping her yard when the suspect barged in, repeatedly shot her and escaped on board a motorcycle.
Ah, but I think that local activist in Manila get talking points from the US administration, because suddenly there is a call for more gun control here.
And the excuse? From the Inquirer:
MANILA â€” The death of a girl hit by celebratory gunfire on New Yearâ€™s Eve sparked calls Thursday for stricter gun controls in the Philippines, where unlicensed weapons are widely blamed for rampant violence.
Yes, more laws are needed.
Ah, but would more laws make a difference?
While noting the obvious plague of criminality in the country, President Benigno Aquino III on Saturday said a total gun ban does not appear to be the solution.
In his speech at the 20th anniversary of the Movement for the Restoration of Peace and Order (MRPO) in Manila, Aquino said, “While it is important for all to acknowledge that great strides have been made in suppressing criminality in our country, I will also be the first to admit that much work remains to be done.
This is from someone whose father was killed by a gun and who himself was shot during his mother’s administration, and who is a gun enthusiast, and who is asking for a legal exemption so he can conceal carry during upcoming election season.
Ah, but politicians all have bodyguards with them, so why the big deal?
Well,Â Because sometimes they are the problem. From the Phil Star from 2007:
Police escorts of two rival politicians in Nueva Ecija shot it out at a roadblock shortly after a political campaign late Thursday, leaving four people dead and 12 injured, including two sons of a former Jaen town mayor.
Nor was this the only recent episode of election related violence here. Our nephew was killed in the cross fire when the mayor’s hit men went after his opponant, and when the candidate wasn’t there, went on to shoot several family members instead. The gun laws didn’t stop them, the security guards didn’t stop them, and the American embassy just shrugs and declined to pressure the government to expedite the case. Now, years later, we are still waiting for justice: because when they finally decided to revoke bail, the ex mayor promptly “disappeared”, and now his daughter is running for mayor.
This is one minor murder, but a major scandal is that the Manguindanao massacre of a political rival and over 20 reporters is still awaiting trial. Of course, the delay has meant a couple of witnesses have disappeared or been eliminated…
As for gun crimes: well, maybe we need gun control for the cops: after all, the last major massacre here of innocents was by an ex police chief who killed a bunch of Chinese tourists.
Gun violence by those authorized to carry weapons is not, alas, rare. From a recent headline:
Another recent possible scandal in the recent headlines is the shooting of environmentalist shot at a check point by the police.
So now they are checking what really happened: from today’s news:
The 13 men, some of them lawmen and an environmentalist, were killed in what Quezon police claimed to be an encounter in Atimonan last Sunday.
Quezon police officials initially said the 13 were members of a group linked to gun-for-hire activities.
However, an investigation of the incident is now ongoing amid allegations that what happened was a summary execution.
Apparently PNoy is taking no chances: He is asking for a waiver so he can concealed carry a gun during the “gun free” time that precedes elections.
Hmm..wonder if our nephew (who took after his father, a police chief, and Lolo, who always carried narcotics and a gun for protection when making housecalls) would have stopped the massacre that killed him if he had been permitted concealed carry gun…
Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines.
They have no guns in their house/business compound, which relies on machetes and George the killer lab to protect them against thieves.