Quantcast

Editorial

At the mercy of the gun


The bizarre incident that took place on Jan. 22 in a municipal trial court in Cebu City, in which a Canadian retiree shot down his neighbor and the latter’s lawyer, compounds the sense of things coming unhinged in a nation at the mercy of the gun. The fact that the incident took place in a courtroom, at a time a firearms ban was being implemented by the Commission on Elections because of the election season, is confounding and, at the same time, alarming. What is our world coming to?

Two days after the nationwide gun ban kicked off last Jan. 15, a rice trader was shot dead in Marikina City, leading several quarters to wonder whether the prohibition would be enough to prevent election-related violence. If it couldn’t be prevented in the courts where guns are supposed to be banned, election or not, how much more in everyday danger-fraught streets?

Lax security should account for how John Pope, a retired Canadian journalist in his late 60s, who had been living in Cebu for 14 years, was able to bring his firearm inside the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) Branch 6. The oversight proved deadly for Pope’s victims—his courtroom opponent, Dr. Rene Rafols, 57, and the physician’s lawyer, Juvian Achas, 59. Rafols had filed several complaints of malicious mischief against Pope, for allegedly harassing him because of a petty neighborhood dispute. Last Tuesday, before the opening of the hearing, Pope walked casually inside the courtroom, went directly behind Rafols and Achas and shot them at close range.

Pope himself appeared to have been a person coming unhinged, his increasingly bizarre behavior a source of unease for Rafols, who had complained at one time that the Canadian had barged into his clinic and pointed a gun at him. A case of illegal possession of firearms against Pope had in fact been dismissed; but it was not in connection with his dispute with Rafols. He had also a pending case of violence against women and children in the regional trial court. Considering his courtroom flare-up last Tuesday, everything that had happened before seemed to have built up into that one final bloodbath! Cornered and shot in the leg by the police, Pope committed suicide.

But the case is by no means closed. As he was trying to escape, Pope shot Assistant City Prosecutor Maria Theresa Casiño, 40, who was hit in the head below the ear. Casiño’s maimed figure should embody the horrors of the nation in which anarchy obtains because of loose firearms. How such state of things has come to pass should be laid squarely at the feet of the police and government which have been wishy-washy about the issue of loose firearms and gun trafficking. It should be laid squarely at the feet of the Comelec and the agencies it has deputized to enforce the gun ban. It should be laid squarely at the feet of President Aquino who, amid public uproar over the innocent deaths due to illegal discharge of guns last New Year’s Eve, of Stephanie Nicole Ella, 7, and Ranjilo Nemer, 4, insensitively asked the Comelec for a gun ban exemption.

All of these violent deaths should provide the nation an appreciation of the explosive condition that obtains when loose firearms are allowed to thrive and gun-bearing in public is amply permitted. Even the Maguindanao massacre in 2009 could now be better appreciated as an incident fueled by a regime of loose firearms and private armies.

Even more shockingly, the spate of horrible shooting incidents should cumulatively provide the country its own Colorado and Connecticut experiences, or something close to them. But the difference is that while these terrifying incidents have so traumatized the United States that there’s now a snowballing movement for gun control, and the government there—despite the strong progun lobby—has shown enough sensitivity to listen to calls along that line, here in the Philippines, the country’s leaders have not only resisted calls for gun control, they have simply ignored them.

To recall, the President, in asking for official exemption from the election gun ban, invoked his right to self-defense and personal security. How someone who has his own security command—and who, as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, is in fact the most protected person in the country—could sow fear for personal security in the public square should provide the instructive lesson that “security overkill” is driving the passion for guns, which in turn worsens the dangerous situation of a people perennially living at the mercy of the gun.


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


More from this Column:

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Short URL: http://opinion.inquirer.net/?p=45563

Tags: Cebu court shooting , editorial , guns , John Pope , opinion



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
Advertisement

News

  • Lacson eyes P106-B ‘Yolanda’ rehab masterplan
  • What Went Before: Malacañang allies alleged involvement in pork scam
  • Timeline: Napoles tell-all
  • 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  • Napoles surgery in Makati hospital successful
  • Sports

  • Mixers trim Aces; Painters repulse Bolts
  • Donaire junks Garcia as coach, taps father
  • ’Bye Ginebra: No heavy heart this time
  • UAAP board tackles new rules
  • Baguio climb to decide Le Tour de Filipinas
  • Lifestyle

  • The best flavors of summer in one bite, and more
  • Homemade yogurt, bread blended with pizza, even ramen
  • Visiting chefs from Denmark get creative with ‘ube,’ ‘ buko,’ ‘calamansi,’ mangoes
  • Salted baked potatoes
  • A first in a mall: Authentic Greek yogurt–made fresh in front of diners
  • Entertainment

  • Return of ‘Ibong Adarna’
  • Practical Phytos plans his future
  • In love … with acting
  • From prison to the peak of success
  • ‘Asedillo’ location thrives
  • Business

  • Cost-recovery provisions for affected gencos urged
  • This time, BIR goes after florists
  • Philippine Airlines to stop shipment of shark fins
  • PH banks not ready for Asean integration
  • Stocks down on profit-taking
  • Technology

  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Bam Aquino becomes Master Splinter’s son after Wiki hack
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • Filipinos in Middle East urged to get clearance before returning
  • PH seeks ‘clearer assurance’ from US
  • China and rivals sign naval pact to ease maritime tensions
  • What Went Before: Manila bus hostage crisis
  • Obama arrives in Tokyo, first stop of 4-nation tour
  • Marketplace