At Large

Call for a total gun ban


While politicians dither and wring their hands in mock or sincere distress over calls for a ban on placing guns in civilian hands, a candidate for the Senate in this year’s elections has boldly come out and aired a call for a “total gun ban” in the country.

Former Sen. Ramon “Jun” Magsaysay Jr., the “real Magsaysay” in the 2013 polls and truly his father’s son in spirit and in DNA, is calling for an absolute ban on licensing guns for civilian use. Active since 1997 in promoting a “gunless society,” Magsaysay says the government should consider “making gun bans permanent and allow only qualified individuals such as those from the police, military, and security groups to carry firearms.”

Magsaysay made the call for stricter gun control laws after the death of two children in the New Year celebrations and one man’s shooting rampage in Cavite that killed eight (plus himself) and injured 12 others. For starters, he urges Congress to pass pending bills in the legislature aimed at imposing harsher penalties on individuals wielding guns without a permit, or with expired permits.

The former senator was one of the signatories of a letter in 2011 urging President Aquino to consolidate two bills—the proposed Citizen Protection Act of 2010 and the Firearms Regulation Act of 2010—and certify as urgent these two measures to deter street crimes.

But as we know by now, P-Noy turned a deaf ear to this plea, and even engaged in a recent “shoot-off” with police and military brass and other gun enthusiasts even as a lone gunman was shooting down his neighbors in Cavite.

It could have been a mere coincidence, but it points out the “conceptual distance” P-Noy has to bridge before he can wrap his mind and heart around the idea of gun control. This seems strange, since he has deep and lasting first-hand experience with the menace of firearms, and bullet fragments can still be found in his body after a failed ambush during a coup attempt against his mother.

Some may view his enthusiasm for gun use as stemming from his experience putting himself between his mother and possible assassins. But he need only put himself on the other side, on the side of those at risk of being gunned down, to understand how the rest of us feel—helpless against the threat of guns in the hands of unknown and perhaps untrustworthy gun owners.

* * *

Now on to a less deadly but no less dangerous menace.

The EcoWaste Coalition is calling on politicians not to plaster Plaza Miranda and the rest of the route to be taken by Black Nazarene devotees today with campaign materials, specifically tarpaulins with their images, names and “greetings.”

“It’s very tempting for politicians eyeing the 2013 polls to use the occasion to sell themselves through ‘happy fiesta’ tarpaulin banners,” says EcoWaste Coalition coordinator Edwin Alejo. “We appeal to their sense of propriety to defy such a temptation. ‘Tarpaulitics’ has no place in an event whose only focus should and must be the Black Nazarene.”

“Tarpaulitics” pertains to the brazen use of tarps to advertise the images and names of politicians or political wannabes for the purpose of establishing familiarity and support among the electorate. “We ask politicos from all the contending factions not to ‘tarpaulinize’ what should be a celebration of unity in faith,” Alejo adds.

Propaganda tarps, according to the EcoWaste Coalition, only add to the enormous fiesta clutter and trash that will have to be managed or disposed of sooner or later.

“Tarpaulins do not lead to a ‘happy fiesta.’  In fact, tarpaulins are a nuisance that can confuse the spiritual message of unity, block the public view of the procession, harm the trees and muddle up the bridges, electric cables, lamp posts and structures where the tarps are usually fastened or [hung],” Alejo says.

Earlier, EcoWaste Coalition called on Quiapo pilgrims to be careful in the way they dispose of their garbage, and to try to reduce as much as possible the amount of waste to be disposed during this religious festival.

It proposed that well-meaning politicians divert funds meant for printing and putting up tarps to:

provide devotees with free meals in biodegradable or reusable packaging; pay for extra personnel needed to help in sweeping the Quiapo district clean; provide for waste segregation bins or sacks in appropriate spots, as well as pay for volunteers who will look after the containers; and support barangay environmental law enforcers to catch and fine litterbugs.

Politicians can also help in the postfiesta cleanup of littered streets and in the removal of unsightly banners and buntings in the area, EcoWaste Coalition added.

* * *

And finally, in a show of solidarity, residents of Bataan province have come to the aid of its namesake in Mindanao, the municipality of New Bataan in Compostela Valley, by contributing to the relief and rehabilitation efforts of the Philippine Red Cross in the area.

Bataan Gov. Enrique T. Garcia Jr. turned over to PRC Chair Dick Gordon a check in the amount of P2.5 million to support the ongoing humanitarian activities of the agency in New Bataan.

“The devastation wrought by Typhoon ‘Pablo’ is so enormous that we are compelled to commiserate with our brothers in New Bataan and help them make a fresh start especially this new year,” Garcia said.

“After the initial relief phase of the operations in New Bataan, we want to help make sure that people’s lives are brought back to normal or even better than before so that they can once again be productive members of the community,” he added.

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Tags: column , gun control , Rina Jimenez-David , total gun ban , ‘tarpaulitics’

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