By Hannah Torregoza
Voting 20-0, the Senate passed on third and final reading on Monday a measure seeking to extend the validity of licenses to possess firearms and ammunition from two years to five years.
The measure, Senate Bill No. 1155 under Committee Report No. 19, seeks to amend Republic Act (RA) No. 10591 or the “Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act” by extending the renewal period of firearm registration from four years to five years.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto and Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri filed the measure while Senator Ronald dela Rosa prepared the committee report as chair of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs.
Under the measure, the registration of a firearm shall be renewed every five years from the birthdate of the licensee. Failure to renew the registration of the firearm on or before the date of its expiration shall cause the revocation of the license. The said firearm shall be confiscated or forfeited in favor of the government after due process.
Furthermore, the measure extends the validity of the permit to carry firearms outside of one’s residence from one year to two years “from the date of the approval of the application, unless sooner revoked or suspended.”
In his sponsorship speech on the bill, dela Rosa, a former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, said that a lack of practical renewal policies hinders gun owners from renewing their firearms.
“Because license renewal means complying with voluminous documentary requirements and conditions,” dela Rosa said.
“In a country like ours, gun ownership is a privilege that is hidden behind numerous documentary requirements and countless conditions that must be met; then and only then can one avail of such privilege,” he said.
The senator said data provided by the PNP Firearms and Explosives Office showed that prior to the enactment of RA 10591 in 2013, the number of registered firearms was 1,650,353. But it eventually increased to 1,869,684 after the enactment of the said law.
The same study also showed that as of Aug. 31, 2019, the registration of 45 percent or 837,758 of the 1,869,684 previously registered firearms was not renewed, and 7,073 were accounted as loose firearms.
“This is exactly why we say that a mere increase in the number of registered firearms upon the implementation of RA 10591 is not considered an achievement, especially when a sizeable number of the owners choose not to renew their licenses despite the possible risk of imprisonment,” Dela Rosa said.
“To set the validity period of our firearms registration from four to five years is a practicable and obvious solution. It would serve us well if renewing our license to possess firearms comes at the same time that we renew the licenses of the firearms themselves.
“In effect, we are not just extending the validity of our firearms licenses; we are, more fundamentally, extending our capacity to be responsible, our capacity to defend ourselves and those whom we love,” the lawmaker said.