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Stricter gun laws needed to stop the massacre

/ 09:59 PM September 22, 2011

The shooting by a 13-year-old of his 17-year-old boyfriend in an SM mall in Pampanga is just another proof that we have very liberal gun laws and that we should have stricter gun laws to curb crime, as the Gunless Society keeps insisting. How can such a young boy have access to a handgun, carry it past the security guards of the mall and then shoot his boyfriend if we had adequate gun laws?

The same with the abandoned wife who shot her estranged husband in another SM mall. If we had adequate gun laws, the two shooters would not have been able to carry guns. These incidents show how easy it would be for terrorists to smuggle guns, and even bombs, through the mall security, and perhaps even through the airports.

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We are as liberal as the United States in allowing the possession and carrying of guns. And we do not even have a provision in our Constitution granting citizens the right to bear arms. The United States has it and that is why it has the highest murder rate in the world, and the Philippines is its counterpart in Asia.

The US government and people, and even some of the gun manufacturers themselves, realize the need for stricter gun laws to stop the massacre, but American legislators are afraid of the National Rifle and Pistol Association which has a very strong lobby in Congress. In the Philippines, we have the gun clubs who protest at the slightest hint that the carrying of guns might be restricted.

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The country that has the strictest gun laws is Japan, and it has the lowest murder rate in the world. Not even members of the Yakuza can easily carry guns there.

The proposal of the Gunless Society is simple: Only legitimate members of law enforcement agencies, in proper uniform, will be allowed to carry guns. Anybody who is not in uniform but carrying a gun would be apprehended. That should stop the shooting.

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I think the Senate or the House should investigate what is turning out to be an anomalous procurement of 1,000 fire trucks by the Department of Interior and Local Government.

Under the law, the Revised Fire Code, it should be the chief of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) who has direct supervision and control of the bureau. But Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo has made the BFP chief inutile.

According to insiders, Robredo is directly meddling in the affairs of the BFP. He is practically exercising the powers of the BFP chief. This is dangerous because he is not only encroaching on the authority of another but is also playing with fire. And at whose expense? The lives and properties of the Filipino people. These are supposed to be protected by the BFP but they are now at the mercy of a secretary who does not even have the qualifications of an ordinary fireman.

Why is Robredo doing this? Because he wants to import fire trucks from a certain Austrian company at a higher price. The BFP has been buying Philippine-made fire trucks for years without any problems and at a much lower price. When Robredo assumed his post, he insisted on the procurement of imported fire trucks.

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According to Agham Party-List Rep. Angelo Palmones, this was unilaterally made, without any scientific study or any consultation with the stakeholders. This move will kill the Philippine fire truck industry and will throw thousands of Filipino workers out of their jobs.

Robredo defended his action in an interview by saying: “Walang mangyayari sa bansa natin kung puro gawang Pinoy ang bibilhin natin (We will not improve if we keep buying Philippine-made products).” Outrageous. What an anti-Filipino statement! Is Robredo a Filipino or a foreigner? Where is his patriotism?

To fulfill his wishes, Robredo meddled with the internal affairs of the BFP. From Oct. 28, 2010 to February 2011, he issued three orders reorganizing the bids and awards committee (BAC) of the BFP without the participation of the BFP chief.

This is an encroachment on the authority of the latter under RA 9514 and RA 9184, or the Government Procurement Reform Act of 2003, which expressly vests in the head of the procuring agency, in this case the BFP, the designation of BAC members. Note further that this law fixes the term of BAC members to one year and provides that its members cannot be removed without a valid cause.

According to reports, Robredo designated a DILG observer in the BAC in the person of a lawyer without the approval of the BFP. This is highly irregular. Section 13 of Article V of RA 9184 mandates that the observers, aside from a representative of the Commission on Audit, have to be invited by the BAC, must be from the private sector, and have to be duly accredited by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The lawyer designated by Robredo does not possess these qualifications.

To have a firmer grip on the BFP, Robredo reassigned, without the approval of the BFP chief, two BFP lawyers from the national headquarters and replaced them with two lawyers from the Bicol region, his home turf.

According to Palmones, Robredo is positioning his team in preparation for BFP’s procurement of imported fire trucks costing P1 billion. This is also in preparation for Robredo’s securing a P1.3-billion loan from Austria to finance the reconditioned Rosenbauer fire trucks.

The submission of bids for the first batch of fire trucks will be on Sept. 30, 2011, but Robredo allegedly has already furnished the technical specifications of the eight fire trucks to be imported to favored suppliers even before the public and all prospective bidders  were informed of the proposed purchase. This is a violation of the principle of “equal opportunity” and the “anti-collusion” clause of RA 9184.

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TAGS: featured columns, gun laws, mall shooting, opinion, sm Pampanga
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