Sotto: Law needed to further ease procedures for gun permits

Published June 28, 2021, 10:32 AM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Anti-crime civilians could avail of existing procedures to own and carry guns if they want to help law enforcement agencies in crime fighting as President Duterte had proposed, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said on Monday, June 28.

But if the President wanted to ease the procedures for civilians to secure permits to own and carry firearms, Sotto said Congress must first pass a law.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III (Senate of the Philippines)

“It’s already in place if they want. All one has to do is file for a license to possess and a permit to carry. What else do they want?” Sotto said in a message to the Manila Bulletin.

“It’s already possible,” he added.

Duterte, during the launch of a coalition of law enforcers and civilian volunteers last Friday, said he is open to arming civilian anti-crime groups to help in going after suspected criminals and enforcing the laws.

He said he will order the Philippine National Police (PNP) to issue the necessary permits to qualified civilians, while telling anti-crime volunteers not to kill persons who already surrendered to authorities.

“They can avail of the present procedures, otherwise, they would need to amend the law on firearms (to ease the procedures),” Sotto said.

“An EO (Executive Order) won’t do it,” the Senate chief said in a separate text message to reporters.

Sen Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, former PNP chief, meanwhile, said he sees “no problem” with arming anti-crime civilian groups “as long as they are properly supervised.”

“It would be a big help to the gov[ernmen]t to have additional manpower to maintain peace and order at no additional cost to the gov[ernmen]t,” he said.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, also a former police chief, however, warned on Sunday, June 27, that arming civilians “could backfire,” raising the spate of fatal shootings in the United States due to loose firearm regulations.

Lacson said that instead of arming volunteers, the government should implement more stringent gun control measures to prevent crimes.

Sotto and Dela Rosa earlier supported a proposal to arm members of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).