By ERIK ESPINA
A MEMBER of the “High Bench” enjoys the privilege of, if memory serves, 40 PTCFORs (Permit to Carry Firearms Outside of Residence). In contrast, I am aware of former defense secretaries and AFP/PNP chiefs who forego new and tedious license requirements, including non-renewal of permits to protect their lives and family, despite decades of service to these institutions and the country. That is the reality of “incumbency”. Gravity eases privilege in the corridors of power.
With recent and successive gun-related violence, I hope the knee-jerk reaction of further restricting standing policies and permits on firearms does not take the convenient hit. In the past, the PNP hammered on law-abiding gun holders, sensitive to the howl of bosses and certain sectors over the proliferation of illegal firearms. They want to be seen engaged and doing something – anything — to prevent lawlessness. They, however, miss the point. The operative word is “illegal firearms”. The wisdom in a gun license, or a permit, is precisely for self-defense, in the tardiness of police response and to identify the real owners or end-users of the firearms, if and when employed in an incident. With the battery of gun seminars, psychological and drug tests, the problem is not with licensed gun holders or permits. The main hurdle is in private armies, criminal, liberation, terrorist fronts and selective implementation, including illegal manufacture of backyard weapons, criminal sale of government firearms/ammunition, and failure to verify/validate the end-users, particularly, of bulk sales and sourcing illicit firearms in balikbayan boxes, foreign-sponsored weapons landed on our porous shores, captured arms from previous encounters with government forces, and successful raids against plantation guards and PNP outposts.
Despite provincial caravans, Crame must institutionally devolve gun licensing/permits to regional level, with automatic review in Manila. Fees paid to a Crame account. They better fix it or else, when they retire, and new faces are younger batches, they too will be demoted mortals, toothless before criminals.
* * *
PERSONAL: With deep gratitude to Mayor/President DU30, SAP Bong Go, Visayas Secretary Michael Dino, Mayor Mike Rama, and the Barug Team Rama (coalition) of Cebu. Thank you!