Press Release
November 4, 2015

No penalty in carrying amulets made from ammo shell - Recto

There is no penalty for carrying an amulet made out of an empty ammunition shell, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph G. Recto explained today, stressing that nothing in the firearms law prohibits such Filipino cultural practice.

"Whether as an anting-anting or a fashion accessory, an empty bullet casing crafted as such is a perfectly legal item," Recto said.

Recto said the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of RA 10591, or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act of 2013 defines "ammunition" as a "complete unfired unit" consisting of a "bullet, gunpowder, cartridge case and primer."

"If only the cartridge remains and this has been repurposed into an amulet or a fashion bling, then it is no longer a bullet so it is not illegal to wear it. You can only be charged by your friends of being baduy, but you can't be charged in court," Recto said.

"If, for example, two of four components are absent. Kung wala ng gunpower at primer, kahit buo pa tingnan sa labas, lalo na kung binutasan pa kasi ginawang key chain, the ammunition, obviously, has been rendered useless," he said.

Recto said RA 10591 only punishes the illegal possession of complete ammunition or a live bullet.

He said this is reiterated in the IRR of RA 10591 in which the "four components" of complete ammunition are further defined.

The IRR states that ammunition "must have a primer", also called an "igniter", which refers to a device used for the purpose of setting fire to ignite the gun powder.

It must also have gunpowder, which "refers to any explosive powder used to propel projectiles intended for firearms".

The third component is the cartridge case, which the IRR defines as "a container, usually metal and cylindrical in shape, to be loaded with a primer, powder charge and bullet."

Completing the ammunition is the bullet, "or the projectile propelled through the barrel of a firearm by means of the expansive force of gases coming from burning gunpowder."

Recto said while it could be the prerogative of some airlines and aviation authorities to ban the carrying on board of amulets made out of empty cartridges, "the only thing they should do is confiscate it and throw it to the garbage bin."

Even the documentation that such has been taken from your possession is not needed, "unless as a receipt for the purpose of claiming it later," he explained.

"The only hassle for air travellers who wear it or keep it in the bag is that it will be detected by an X-ray machine and will be subjected to inspection, he said.

To prevent such delays, especially at a time when airport queues are getting quite long, "the baggage inspectors should just throw it in the trash bin like what they do with bottled water and other prohibited liquids," Recto said.

"Ang delikado lang talaga ay kung mapalitan ng tunay na bala," he added.

"The general rule is that a decommissioned bullet that is used as an anting-anting is a perfectly legal accessory," he said. "Kung halata naman talagang bala na wala nang silbi at di na pwedeng iputok, dapat hayaan na sa bagahe. Siguraduhin lang na sa bansang pupuntahan mo, hindi iligal ang ganyang bagay."

He emphasized that the legality of amulets fashioned out of bullets must be explained to the public because of the widespread practice of wearing it or displaying it as ornaments.

"Maraming lugar sa Pilipinas, merong nagsusuot nito. Kasi merong paniniwala na pangontra ito sa mga masasamang ispirito. Kaya kailangan din malaman ng mga nagsusuot nito ang kanilang karapatan na hindi sila dapat hulihin," Recto said.

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