In the wake of recent murders committed with impunity, the Philippine National Police should lose no time in imposing stricter gun control measures, including the suspension of Permits to Carry Firearms Outside Residences (PTCFORs).
Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson stressed this following the killing of Ako Bicol party list Rep. Rodel Batocabe and former Kadingilan, Bukidnon Mayor Joelito Talaid within hours of each other on Saturday.
Lacson, who heads the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, also intends to call for a public hearing in January on recent killings, including those of prominent personalities, in recent months.
“At the rate murder is being committed with impunity, it’s time for the PNP to impose stricter gun control measures. For a start, try suspending all PTCFORs. Anybody in civvies carrying firearms must be assumed to have criminal intent and apprehended on the spot,” said Lacson, who headed the PNP from 1999 to 2001.
He added such a policy should also include PNP officers who are not in police uniform.
“Anybody, including PNP officers not in police uniform must be assumed to have criminal intent and apprehended on the spot. It’s time the public developed a different mindset and assumption on people seen carrying firearms,” he said on his Twitter account.
Lacson noted the gunning down of Rep. Batocabe was the first killing of an incumbent or sitting lawmaker in recent memory.
“This all the more needs urgent or even ‘unpopular’ measures by authorities, including very strict gun control measures,” he said.
Earlier reports indicated Batocabe and his security escort SPO1 Rolando Diaz were gunned down after attending a gift-giving for senior and PWD citizens in Daraga town in Albay province.
Batocabe is running for mayor of Daraga in the 2019 elections.
On Saturday morning, former Kadingilan, Bukidnon Mayor Joelito “Jukens” Talaid was gunned down by motorcycle-riding killers in Cagayan de Oro City.
As early as July, Lacson said the PNP should consider stricter firearms control strategies following the killing of Tanauan City Mayor Antonio Halili last July 2, “before similar killings could reach ubiquitous levels.”
Lacson has sought to deter civilians from carrying firearms outside their homes, saying only police and military personnel in uniform and on duty should be allowed to do so.
He added that while civilians may be allowed to possess firearms, the firearms should be kept in a vault inside the owners’ homes when left unattended.
“Firearms are for self-defense and protection of properties from intruders, and not for offensive action by the possessor,” he said.
He also stressed the need to reverse the perception that anyone with a firearm tucked in his waist must be a law enforcement officer. Instead, he said anyone with a firearm tucked in his waist would be presumed as a “bad element without doubt and therefore must be reported to the authorities.”
When he was Chief, PNP, Lacson did not automatically renew expired PTCFORs but instead imposed very stringent requirements, with the objective of not issuing any PTCFOR at the appropriate time.
Meanwhile, Lacson plans to hold a public hearing on recent killings with impunity, in January 2019. Many of the cases involved prominent personalities aside from Batocabe, Talaid and Halili. They included:
* General Tinio (Nueva Ecija) Mayor Ferdinand Bote, who was shot dead inside his vehicle in an ambush (July 3)
* Radio anchor Joey Llana, gunned down by men with automatic firearms in Daraga, Albay, while on his way to work (July 20)
* Lawyer Rafael Atotubo, 62, gunned down in Bacolod City by motorcycle-riding assailants (Aug. 24)
* Former barangay councilor Pepe Baccay, gunned down in Tumauini town in Isabela province (Aug. 25)
* Ricardo Aparicio, husband of Clarin (Bohol) Vice Mayor Velden Aparicio (Sept. 2)
* Ronda (Cebu) Mayor Mariano Blanco III, killed gangland-style by armed men who barged into his office while he was sleeping there (Sept. 5)
* Sudipen, La Union Mayor Alexander Buquing, gunned down in Bangar town by assailants riding a pickup truck (Oct. 1)
* Human rights lawyer Benjamin Ramos Jr., 56, a founding member of the National Union of People’s Lawyers, shot dead in front of a convenience store in Kabankalan City in Negros Occidental (Nov. 6)
* Balaoan (La Union) vice mayor Alfred Concepcion died along with aide Michael Ulep, in an ambush (Nov. 14). His daughter, Balaoan Mayor Aleli Concepcion, survived the ambush.
* former Bayambang, Pangasinan Councilor Levin Uy, who was shot dead while jogging (Nov. 16).
* Businessman Dominic Sytin, gunned down outside a hotel in Subic Bay Freeport (Nov. 28)
* Richard Santillan, former aide of former Biliran Rep. Glenn Chong, who was gunned down in an alleged shootout (Dec. 10). Police said he was killed in a shootout in Cainta but the Public Attorney’s Office claimed he was tortured before being killed.
* Senior Inspector Porferio Gabuya Jr., gunned down by motorcycle-riding assailants in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental (Dec. 19). Gabuya was deputy chief of police for operations of the Guihulngan City police.
On Dec. 21, an ambush in Talisay City in Negros Occidental left lawyer Erfe del Castillo wounded and her companion-driver, former policeman Efren Palmares, dead.
“When persons in authority are now being killed in a brazen manner – in broad daylight and in full public view – that is cause for concern. If these personalities who have security detail are not safe, what more the ordinary Filipino?” Lacson said.
He said that while the PNP deserves at least the benefit of the doubt for now, trust cannot be one-way and the PNP must exert efforts to earn the public’s trust.