MANILA, Philippines - A final gun amnesty is to be launched next month by the Philippine National Police (PNP) in compliance with Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive Law on Gun Control.
The amnesty will allow individuals with unlicensed firearms to have their guns documented and registered with the Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO), said Chief Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac, PNP Public Information Office director.
Sindac said the gun amnesty was meant to account for all the loose firearms in the country, which authorities believe are being used by criminals in committing crimes.
A source said the PNP is waiting for approval from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) for the implementation of the gun amnesty.
Under the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of RA 10591, the PNP must implement final gun amnesty within six months from promulgation of the IRR.
The IRR was promulgated and signed by PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima in January this year.
During the interim period of six months, the IRR stated that no person applying for license should be charged any delinquent payment accruing to the firearm subject for registration.
In April, the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on three provisions of the new gun control law.
The TRO covered the centralization of the application and renewal of the firearm licenses, the signing of the waiver by a gun license applicant allowing PNP personnel to visit or enter their homes and the delivery of gun licenses using a private firm or courier services.
Before RA 10591 was enacted, the PNP-FEO had been conducting Oplan Katok, a PNP campaign to account for or recover loose firearms previously registered but were not renewed or updated by the owners.
Under Oplan Katok, authorities visited at least 524,000 gun holders since December 2012. Of the number, 129,210 used fictitious addresses and could not be located.
Officials said if the number of unregistered or fictitious firearms is at 129,210, this should be a cause for alarm for the PNP leadership.
PNP chief Purisima ordered an investigation on the reported proliferation of fake gun licenses and permit to carry firearms outside residence (PTCFOR) bearing his forged signature.
Purisima also directed the FEO and PTCFOR secretariat to put additional security code on the cards of firearm licenses and permits to carry to make it hard for unscrupulous individuals to make fake cards.
Under the rules, the FEO is processing applications for gun licenses while PTCFOR is handled by a secretariat directly under the office of the PNP chief.
All gun holders must register their firearms or face charges of illegal possession of firearms, while PTCFOR card is issued only to individuals with death threats.
Sindac said Purisima gave the directive to Chief Superintendent Melito Mabilin, director of the Civil Security Group that supervises the FEO, which handles the issuance of gun licenses.
“The chief PNP wants to stop this and to make sure that all those behind it must be held responsible,” Sindac said.
He said Purisima had received information that fake gun licenses and PTCFORs are being manufactured and sold to unsuspecting victims for a still undetermined amount.
Government officials and employees who renew firearm licenses need to pay P1,800 per short firearm, while private individuals shell out P2,000.
The PTCFOR, on the hand, cost P4,150 excluding the fee for drug test, neuropsychiatry test, clearances from the court and PNP Directorate for Intelligence.
Based on records, the FEO said there are some 1.6 million licensed guns nationwide.
Purisima has initiated strict implementation policy on the issuance of PTCFOR starting last year.
He said the PNP decided to put in place measures to ensure that individuals who are not mentally capable of carrying firearms will not be allowed to possess guns.
He said the goal is to ensure only qualified individuals will be allowed to carry firearms outside residence for the safety of the general public.
The issue on fake gun license and PTCFOR cards has cropped up while the PNP investigates the controversy on the missing 1,000 units of AK-47 rifles, which reportedly ended up in the hands of the New People’s Army.