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PNP denies ‘singling out’ NegOr solon

January 31, 2023 Alfred P. Dalizon 223 views

Amid drive vs expired gun licenses

THE Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday denied singling out a Negros Oriental representative in their ongoing crackdown against delinquent licensed gun-holders as officials reminded the public anew that owning a firearm in the country is a “privilege” that can be revoked for violation of the law.

“The PNP would like to remind all gun-holders that one’s license to own and possess a firearm is a mere privilege and not an absolute right. As such, all licensed gun-holders are required to comply with all the rules and guidelines stipulated in their license, and any violation therein would result in the revocation of their licenses,” said a statement from the PNP Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO).

“Since [the congressman’s] license application was found to have lacking documents, PNP had no choice but [to] revoke the same. The fact that a deficient license was issued to [the Negros Oriental representative] does not grant him any ‘vested rights.’ As mentioned, the license is a mere privilege. If later on, it is found that a gun-holder’s license was erroneously issued, the PNP is duty bound to correct the error,” the PNP-FEO added.

PNP-FEO Director Col. Paul Kenneth T. Lucas also said that the Negros solon was “duly notified” of the deficiencies in his license. After the legal concern was discussed with the House solon, he surrendered the concerned firearms to the FEO, the official added.

Lucas also maintained that the congressman was not “singled out” in canceling his license.

“The PNP reviews its license records from time to time to verify compliance. As a result of such reviews, a number of licenses have been canceled… was only one among the many licensees affected,” the official said.

The PNP also said that as for the withdrawal of the House solon’s police bodyguards, the move was made only in compliance with the PNP Memorandum Circular 2019-006, which directs that only Police Security and Protection Group (PSPH) personnel are authorized to render protective security to all government officials to include members of the House of Representatives.

“In sum, the PNP asserts that it has performed [its] duty to enforce laws fairly without exemption. The PNP affirms its commitment to strict enforcement of firearms laws and the promotion of responsible gun ownership,” its statement said.

Last week, the PNP announced the revocation of the “License to Own and Possess Firearm” or LTOFP of the Negros Oriental representative after an investigation showed that he presented “spurious documents” to support his gun application papers.

Lucas said that the House solon is one of the 240 individuals whose LTOFPs were revoked after they were found to be involved in various violations of Republic Act (RA) 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulations Act of 2013 and crimes over the past four years.

PNP Chief General Rodolfo S. Azurin Jr. earlier said that he had ordered the PNP-FEO to launch a crackdown on licensed gun-holders who are violating RA 10591 and other laws of the land amid their effort to ensure that these “erring” individuals won’t be allowed to use their licensed weapons to commit crimes and violence in the streets.

Lucas said that as the law knows no bounds, among the holders of such privilege who were subjected to an inspection and audit as authorized by law was the said House solon.

He said that during one of the regular inspections and audits conducted on gun holders, it appeared that spurious documents were submitted by the Negros Oriental representative in support of his application for a firearm license.

As a result of the findings and after appropriate deliberation, the PNP-FEO revoked the lawmaker’s gun privilege and confiscated the three long firearms and nine short firearms registered under his name.

In 2022 alone, the PNP-FEO director said that they revoked 41 LTOFPs for various violations of existing regulations. In the same year, a total of 201 firearms registered to these revoked licenses were likewise subsequently confiscated, he added.

Lucas said that grounds for revocation include involvement of the gun owners in any violation of laws like illegal drugs, illegal gambling, commission or pendency of a crime involving firearms and ammunition, prolonged non-renewal of a firearms license, illegal or unlawful transfer of firearms, violation of the election gun ban, revoked by order of the court, and misrepresentation or submission of spurious supporting documents.

He said that out of the 187 cases, 31 cases of firearms owners were linked to illegal drugs. “This is part of our commitment to tackling the involvement in illegal drug activities of licensed gun-holders,” the PNP-FEO director said.