5,000 temporary gun licenses issued in Region 12

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/25 January) —  The Philippine National Police (PNP) has released more than 5,000 provisional permits to gun holders in Region 12 (Southwestern Mindanao) who earlier availed of the government’s firearms amnesty program.

Chief Insp. Romeo Galgo Jr., firearms, explosives, security agencies and guards section chief of PNP Region 12, said Tuesday they issued the provisional or temporary licenses pending the ongoing official registration of all firearms that were covered by the amnesty.

In Region 12, he said the PNP central office approved the issuance of temporary licenses for 5,107 firearms out of the 5,867 applications from the area.

Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and  Cotabato.

Galgo said most of the temporary licenses were approved last September and are valid for one year or until the release of the permanent licenses or registrations.

He said they have so far delivered some 3,000 temporary licenses to police units in the region to facilitate their release to the gun holders.

Galgo pointed out that the provisional firearms licenses do not allow their holders to carry or bring them outside their residences.

He said gun holders issued with temporary licenses may face illegal possession charges if they would be caught carrying their firearms outside their homes.

“They will need to secure a separate permit that will allow or authorize them to carry their firearms outside of their residences,” Galgo said.

He was referring to the Permit To Carry Firearm Outside of Residence, which is a “written authority issued by the PNP that entitles gun holders to carry their licensed or lawfully-issued firearms outside of their residences for a specific duration and purpose” as provided for
under Presidential Decree 1866 or the Basic Firearms Law.

The PNP implemented the firearms amnesty program from October to November in 2009 based on  Executive Order 817, which provided for the government’s intensified campaign against loose firearms in the country, earlier estimated at 1.1 million.

The gun amnesty program covered owners of loose firearms and holders of guns with expired or non-renewed licenses.

Region 12 ranked third among the country’s 16 regions with the most applications for the gun amnesty program. Region 4-A or Calabarzon and the National Capital Region topped the list with 10,000 and 5,560 applications, respectively
Although the PNP had declared the 2009 firearms amnesty program as the “last and final,” Galgo said a similar program may also be implemented by the present administration.

“The main intent of the gun amnesty program is to properly account for all existing firearms and have them registered.   Our campaign against loose firearms is ongoing and the PNP leadership has been evaluating the situation to determine whether there’s a need to implement another
amnesty program,” he added. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)