Press Release
October 28, 2015

Focus on 1.9 M loose guns, not on 'bullets' in OFW luggage - Recto

1. One study estimates at 1.9 million the number of unlicensed firearms in the country. These are the lethal weapons - especially those in the hands of criminals - the authorities should look for, not rusting bullets inside the luggage of OFWs and tourists, the discovery of which have been routinely assailed by those from whom these bullets were found.

2. Ang malaking problema ay hindi ang paisa-isang paglabas ng bala, pero ang pag-smuggle ng libo-libong baril. A joint United Nations and Norwegian group study revealed that while Customs data showed that the Philippines imported 265,149 guns from 2000 to 2010, sales documents of exporting countries, however, showed that the Philippines actually imported 434,999 guns from 1996 to 2010. This data is cited in an Australian-funded study on illicit arms trade in the Philippines.

3. Hulihin ang mga tunay na kriminal. 145 people get robbed every day, 451 people are victimized by thieves every day, 28 women get raped every day, and 27 are killed every day. And the only "criminal" they can parade on TV is a hapless OFW who's been caught with one bullet whose provenance was later doubted by Justice department prosecutors?

4. Stopping tanim-bala requires revisiting the law which encourages its commission. Under RA 10591, or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act, the penalty for illegal possession of ammunition is prision mayor, from 6 years and 1 day to 12 years. Such penalty may be too harsh for a single bullet. 'Pag may balang naka-display sa hood ng jeep mo as an ornament bakasyon ka sa kulungan ng anim na taon. How can this provision be refined without impacting on the anti-illegal firearms act? One bullet or one truckfull of bullets, pareho lang ang parusa. How can this be refined to accommodate gradations in the gravity of the offense to include a policy of reprimand kung isang bala lang? When it comes to tanim-bala, RA 10591 is the source of temptation.

5. RA 10591 says that if you are a public official and you plant a bullet in the person or property of an individual for the purpose of framing him up, you go to jail for life. Isang bala lang, hindi ka na sisikatan ng araw sa tagal mo sa bilangguan. Our research of Napolcom records showed that not one cop has been sent to jail for committing this crime.

6. Kung mayroong Miranda Warning para sa mga nahuli, it would be better if the PNP would disseminate the "super Section 38" of Republic Act 10591 as deterrent to planting guns and bullets. This should be part of police entrance and promotion exams. It states:

"The penalty of prison mayor in its maximum period shall be imposed upon any person who shall willfully and maliciously insert, place, and/or attach, directly or indirectly, through any overt or covert act, any firearm, or ammunition, or parts thereof in the person, house, effects, or in the immediate vicinity of an innocent individual for the purpose of implicating or incriminating the person, or imputing the commission of any violation of the provisions of this Act to said individual. If the person found guilty under this paragraph is a public officer or employee, such person shall suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua."

7. I filed exactly a month ago proposed Senate Resolution 1594. It calls for a probe into what is reportedly a year-long planting season of bullets into the luggage of passengers who fly out of NAIA.

8. The probe I seek does not only cover 'tanim-bala' incidents but other scams which inconvenience, swindle or defraud passengers who use the nation's principal gateway. Mga bagaheng ninanakawan, mga pasaherong pinapasakay sa mga taksing mabilis ang metro.

9. A Senate investigation is needed because agencies operating in NAIA have failed to curb the abuses on their own. There is no working system that is "guarding the guards." A functioning internal affairs system would have served as a tripwire that would have caught these problems early on and reprimands would have been meted out. Apparently there is none.

10. It is time to straighten out the mess in NAIA. Compounding the situation is the alphabet soup of government agencies operating inside NAIA, functioning as independent republics, with no superagency conducting an oversight.

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