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Firearms licensing still a mess

A leading firearms dealer stated last week that "Gun owners who have failed to get an LTOP (license to own and possess firearms) are simply lazy." 

Really? Well, maybe that scion of a famous gun selling family should examine the reality first to cure his ignorance. Out of 1.7 Million licensed firearms in the Philippines less than 20,000 have applied for and even less have obtained their LTOP. The truth being that Firearms owners have not been able to comply with the new LTOP requirement because of the difficulty in obatining the requirements (for which substantial clearances and payments in addition to the actual license fee have to be paid by the applicant), the ineptness, incomptence, and corruption of PNP Regional Offices in processing and forwarding firearms license applications, and the continued centralization of the firearms license applications in Camp Crame Quezon City (in defiance of a Temporary Restraining order issued by the Supreme Court last year), which makes it impossible for firearms owners from the different regions to apply for an LTOP.

There is also the issue of Consitutionality of the LTOP. PROGUN has filed and has pending a petition in the SUpreme Court questioning the LTOP for being ex post facto since it applies RETROACTIVELY, and imposes a criminal offense to existing licensed gun owners who fail to comply. This issue is still being litigated in the Supreme Court.

PNP Firearms and Explosives Office Chief removed after 2 months

MANILA, Philippines – Roughly 2 months after his appointment to the office responsible for issuing licenses for firearms, Senior Superintendent Dennis Siervo has been relieved from his post.

The relief orders were issued Thursday, May 7, Rappler learned from sources privy to the movement.

Siervo, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1985, was formally appointed to the post of Firearms and Explosive Office (FEO) officer-in-charge in late March, replacing Chief Superintendent Moro Lazo, who was appointed director of the PNP Special Action Force.

PNP Holds Consultation Dialogue Forum on Improving Firearms Licensing Process

Last 6 April 2015, the Philippine National Police (PNP), led by its Civil Service Group held a public discussion forum at the PNP general headquarters at Camp Crame, Quezon City. The forum led by PNP-CSG Commander Gen. Melito Mabilin and Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO) Col. Dennis Siervo, was for the "streamlining" of the licensing process for firearms. As stated in the forum, the "marching orders" given to the CSG and FEO were to "make life easier for licensed firearms owners". WIth this in mind, the streamling process for obtaining a License to Own and Possess Firearms or LTOP has been made easier as follows:

1. Court and Prosecutor's clearance shall no longer be required. Instead, the spplicant shall obtain an NBI Clearance. This is because the NBI record is nationwide and more encompassing than the court clearance which is just for a specific city or municipality where the applicant lives.

2. Drug and Neuro Psych testing shall be expanded to include more government and private testing centers (not just PNP accredited) 

3. Number of copies of Forms shall be only two: one for the PNP and one for the applicant.

4. The time to process the LTOP from filing to approval shall take only 40 minutes. This is due to the computer system that forwards the application from initial evaluation directly to the Chief for approval and signature electronically.

5. Firearms safety seminar shall be expanded to include not just gun clubs but also individual qualified firearms instructors who may administer the seminar.

PROGUN honors the fallen SAF 44

The deaths of the 44 PNP SAF troopers in a raid in Maguindanao last 26 January 2015 has left an entire nation in grief and mourning as well as a lot of questions unanswered. The apparent mission of the operation was for the SAF troopers to go into Barangay Mamasapano Maguindanao, the lair of the Islamic secessionist groups MILF and BIFF, and kill terrorists Zulkifli Bin Hir alias Marwan and Filipino bomb-maker Abdul Basit Usman who were hiding there. This, the largest number of casualties in a single PNP operation, has brought forth many questions the answers of which are sorely demanded by the familes of the victims and the public in general. At this point the technicalities or the "how" of the operation is not so important as the "why": why were there highly trained troops sent in to the heart of enemy territory without back up or reinforcements and no coordination with other higher officials such as DILG Sec. Mar Roxas and PNP OIC Leonardo Espina, or the Army? Why was the operation entrusted to suspended Chief PNP Alan Purisima? Why were there US personnel involved and present during the operation? Was it the reward money involved?

Phase 3

Our fight against the oppressive firearms law and rules has now entered into a new phase. Phase 1 was the intial battle in the Supreme Court wherein PROGUN made a show of force and secured a temporary restraining order against the Philippine National Police ("PNP")and the implementation of anti-gun policies. Phase 2 just recently was concluded with the change in leadership within the PNP. Now, we are in Phase 3: which is a second petition in the Supreme Court for annulment of the License to Own and Possess Firearms ("LTOP") and the Implementing Rules and regulations of the oppressive firearms law RA 10591. Phase 4 is a long term fight in Congress and Senate to Amend RA 10591, which would have to wait till after 2016 when there is a change in this current anti-gun presidency and the political landscape.

PROGUN is challenging the LTOP requirement insofar as it is being applied retroactively by the PNP. Being a criminal law, RA 10591 should have only prospective application otherwise it runs afoul with Article 3 sec. 22 of the Constitution which prohibits Ex Post Facto. Simply stated, licensed gun owners who are already in possession of their firearms cannot be compelled to re-apply and re-qualify for a wholly new and more stringent firearms license, since their licenses were already legal and approved before. The same applies to licenses to deal, manufacture, and importation of firearms by entities licensed to engage in such activities.

Congress Probes Alleged Questionable Transactions in Firearms of PNP High Ranking Officials

The House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability today conducted an investigative hearing in response to House resolution No. 970 filed by Congressman Rodolfo Farinas on "alleged Anomalous Transactions Involving High ranking Officials of the Philippine Natrional Police." The Resolution called for a look into the alleged 900 high-powered missing rifles which were later found in the hands of insurgents, and the anmalous Werfast courier service that was engaged by the PNP to deliver apporved firearms licenses to their holders. The hearing however, went beyond these issues and likewise discussed the difficult and egregious firearms licensing polices, the centralization of gun licensing in Camp Crame, Quezon City, the difficulty in obtaining Permits to Carry, the administrative fund raising contained in the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of RA 10591, as well as all other questionable provisions of the IRR.

PROGUN files Contempt Charges against PNP and Moves for the Suspension of the Expiration of All Firearms Licenses

Today, PROGUN filed a Verified Petition for Contempt with the Supreme Court against Chief Philippine National Police ("PNP") Gen Alan Purisima and five officers of the PNP Firearms And Explosives Office ("FEO") for their having violated the temporary restraining order ("TRO") of the court that was issued last 10 April 2014 in PROGUN's case versus the PNP. The Verified Petition for Contempt charged that the PNP on orders of its Chief Gen Purisima and implemeted by the officers of the FEO, continued to implement the centralized licensing policy of requiring licensed gun owners to go to Camp Crame, Quezon City personally to renew their licenses, which was specifically restrained and enjoined by the TRO. The same policy was imposed for all new firearms license applicants. The TRO likewise ordered the PNP to re-open their satellite offices in the regions to accept and process firearms license renewals, which was also not complied with. Lastly, the PNP likewise continued to process registration applications with the "Consent and Waiver" clause allowing the police to enter into the homes of licensed gun owners to inspect their firearms, which was also enjoined and restrained by the SC's TRO.

Under Sec. 7 Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, disobedience to a court order constitutes indirect contempt that may be punished by imprisonment or fine, or both in the discretion of the court. In addition, the acts which were committed in violation of the TRO may be ordered undone by the court.

PROGUN joins Gun Dealers Association of the Philippines in delivering letters to Philippine National Police Headquarters and President Benigno Aquino

On Monday 17 March 2014, PROGUN joined the Gun Dealers Association of the Philippines in going to the Headquarters of the Philippine National Police at Camp Crame Quezon City to deliver a letter petition to the office of Gen. Alan Purisima Chief of the PNP, regarding the complaints and concerns of the gun dealers of extreme difficulties encountered in the new policy of centralized firearms licensing. Under the new policy, which PROGUN opposes, firearms licensing is now centralized in the PNP's headquarter where gun owners from all over the Philippines would have make the trip to personally appear thereat and be fingerprinted and subjected to a drug test.

On the same day PROGUN went to the Presidential Palace at Malacanang to deliver a similar letter protest to President Benigno "Pnoy" Aquino.

TV coverage of this is here on ANC Yahoo Channel by reporter Anthony Taberna:

PROGUN Opposes the proposed fees of the PNP IRR: An Open Letter to the President and the PNP

PROGUN has learned that the proposed fees in the IRR draft of the PNP for R.A. 10591 are P1600 for registration per gun for every four years. This is in addition to the license fee that must be paid by the gun owner whether Type 1 to 5, ranging from P1000 to P10,000 per gun owner. We strongly oppose such proposed fees as being excessive and exhorbitant. If such fees were to be implemented, then gun licensing costs would be practically the same as under the old law, which is what the new law RA 10591 was intended to address and reform. We also note that the registration fee for airguns and airsoft guns is only P500, hence why should registration of firearms be higher when registration of a gun of whatever nature involves the very same act of entering the information in the database?

The law RA 10591 likewise specifically provides that the licensing fees must be reasonable.

The splitting of licensing and registration under RA 10591, and the adoption of the Type 1 to 5 individual licensing was intended precisely to make licensing costs LOWER and more affordable for gun owners. However, by increasing the registration fees up to P1600 per gun, coupled with the payment of a separate license fee of Type to 5, the costs have practically returned to the level that it was under the old law PD 1866, as amended.

UPDATE: On the IRR of RA 10591

Just as an update today we participated in the Public Consultation Hearing for the PNP Draft of the Implementing Rules and Regulations. Notably, a number of people who showed up complained that they were neither invited to participate nor informed. Nevertheless, in the limite time of less than two hours that was allotted to the open forum, a number of stakeholders inckluding PROGUN were able to give their brief suggestions, albeit incomplete, orally, while reserving our right to submit a written position paper or draft suggestions to the IRR Secretariat. According to the PNP, all drafts and suggestions "will be considered and noted", but not necessarily approved to be included. Additional public consultations will be held for regional stakeholders and concerns.

PROGUN will be submitting its position paper in conjunction with allied organizations such as Pinoyguns and Lock n Load.

In sum, we noted the following:

We scored a number of victories in this IRR. But some negative points have remained:

1. Gen. Gil Meneses stated that the SAME FEES that are being charged now, will continue to be charged under the new law. So, since the draft IRR of the PNP states that the fee for ALL TYPES of licenses shall be THE SAME, then it will definitely be cheaper for us who own several guns. 

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