CHR, senator support tougher penalties for careless use of firearms

Angelica Y. Yang - Philstar.com
CHR, senator support tougher penalties for careless use of firearms
San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora checks out unlicensed firearms surrendered to the city police on Oct. 22, 2020.
Boy Santos

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights and a senator expressed support for a measure which calls for stiffer penalties for the willful and indiscriminate use of firearms, which was earlier passed the third and final reading.

Under Senate Bill 2501, offenders from the military and law enforcement agencies who are authorized to bear firearms, will have higher penalties and may be held adminstratively liable.

The measure, which received 21 votes in the affirmative on Thursday, also charges with arresto mayor in the maximum period to those who fired any device which may have not been designed to be a firearm, but was used as such. 

Two days after the bill hurdled through the Senate, CHR Executive Director Jacqueline Ann de Guia welcomed the proposed legislation.

"Firearms are not mere playthings and should only be used as a last resort. Numerous instances in the past have shown how falling bullets fired during celebratory gunfire have injured and even killed innocent individuals," she said in an emailed statement on Saturday. 

According to her, the government has the responsibility of taking measures to protect the public from gun violence, even against its own agents and officials. 

Meanwhile, Sen. Sherwin "Win" Gatchalian, the principal author of the SB 2501, said Saturday that it is high time that harsher penalties be implemented against violators who carelessly use their firearms or devices that could be functionally used as such. 

“Perpetrators of these shooting sprees should be dealt with an iron hand by making them suffer heavier penalties. We should not let these irresponsible individuals take the lives of innocent people through guns that should only be used against defending oneself against criminals," he said in a mix of English and Tagalog in a separate statement. 

The updated penalties may be harsh for some, but these would not be enough to compensate the loss of lives due to the careless use of firearms, he said. 

After getting the green light from senators on the third reading, SB 2501 is now up for the president's signature. 

In 2012, the Philippine National Police's firearms and explosives office estimated that there were 1.2 million registered firearms in the Philippines. Unregistered weapons, however, were reported to be in the hundreds of thousands. 






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