The Armed and the Dangerous: who are they really?

In an article entitled Armed and dangerous: more civilians own guns than military, police,’ Gemma Mendoza of published some quite sensational statistics about weapons in the hands of civilians.

She cites cases of Gerardo Ortega, Venson Evangelista and Emerson Lozano, all who were victims of firearms-related crime. The article then goes on to quote figures about gun ownership, weapon types, and approved licenses. It was all obviously calculated to cause outrage and lead readers to the conclusion that legal firearms owners are the danger to Philippine society.

However, the article presented no strong evidence to link legal ownership as a contributing factor to crime. In line with tactics used by anti-gun advocates, all she could do was make a tenuous correlation and through a few cognitive leaps, propose that for the good of society, the best way forward is for only police and military to be armed. Inferences, suggestions and innuendo are the best they can do because, in reality, there are no links.

There can be no doubt that the Philippines has a serious problem with violent incidents leading to death and injury. So just who are the perpetrators? Who are the real dangers to society? Which groups have the established, well documented track-record of posing a danger to innocent civilians?

As a direct result of the huge numbers of journalists being harassed, detained, tortured, and killed, Reporters Without Borders ranked the Philippines 156th place out of 178 in its Press Freedom Index of 2010. Just a year before, the Committee to Protect Journalists said that the Philippines was the world’s most dangerous country for journalists, topping Iraq for the number killed on the job. As of 2007, at least 830 people have been killed in an extrajudicial fashion and Amnesty International has said that over 200 Filipinos have been victims of enforced disappearance in the past decade. The Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines estimates that we have had over 1200 political killings since 1991.

Let me ask this: were these killings perpetrated by sport shooters or the average PTCFOR holder?

Amnesty International, in their 2006 paper, Political Killings, Human Rights and the Peace Process, described attacks as, “mostly carried out by unidentified men who shoot the victims before escaping on motorcycles, have very rarely led to the arrest, prosecution and punishment of those responsible.”

It goes on to say that, “the common features in the methodology of the attacks, [has led Amnesty International to believe that] they constitute a pattern of politically targeted extrajudicial executions… The organisation remains gravely concerned at repeated credible reports that members of the security forces have been directly involved in the attacks, or else have tolerated, acquiesced to, or been complicit in them.”

In 2009, the US Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices states that, “Arbitrary, unlawful, and extrajudicial killings by elements of the security services and political killings, including killings of journalists, by a variety of actors continued to be major problems.”

Since 2005, over 3,000 military and police personnel have been accused of human rights violations. In 2008, the Commission on Human Rights chair, Leila de Lima reprimanded the Philippine National Police for its reputation of not observing human rights, citing as examples, “the Kuratong Baleleng massacre, the Ortigas Highway Patrol rub out, and the killing of suspects in the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation robbery in Laguna.”

There is no need to beat around the bush here. We, the average armed citizens, are of no danger to society. In fact, the very groups that anti-gun advocates believe should be bestowed the exclusive privilege to carry firearms have, themselves, a traceable history of violence.

Responsible civilian firearms owners are an easy target because despite our skill in the use of a dangerous tool, we do not force our views on anyone else and are ironically quite powerless. Nevertheless, politicians and the media alike vilify us and paint us as violent, anti-social lunatics. The truth is that we are often better trained, better equipped and show more self-restraint than many of the so-called professionals. This is not to boast of our superiority but to highlight the sad state of affairs that our country faces.

The Maguindanao massacre is said to be the single worst mass killing of journalists in history. It was carried out by a political clan with the support of government security forces and officials. The deaths of innocents should not be placed at the feet of ordinary citizen firearms owners. To do so would make a mockery of those who died and trivialize the true dangers in our country.

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12 responses to “The Armed and the Dangerous: who are they really?

  1. ‘am afraid the writer is so myopic that she cannot qualify as a shooters as she cannot  see the trees from the forest and will be violating Rule No. 4:  “Be sure of your target.”.  Who is she really shooting at?

    In our Marketing subject in college, we covered Statistics as a marketing tool. With clever use of figures, statistics can be made to suit a purpose. This could be akin to voter surveys, wherein one presidential candidate lamented that such surveys can be “bought” at C. M. Recto Avenue.

    I believe Fallujah was interviewed earlier by Newsbreak. I am told that the interviewer got pissed off with him as they could not get the right answers that they wanted to hear.  I wonder how true is this?

  2. The article by Gemma Mendoza is actually quite fair – so fair that nothing in our 2 1/2 hour interview last November for this article was quoted or used. I anticipated that because, each and every question that she asked me, was fully and satisfactorily answered for which she had no retort. I sensed that she was anti-gun fishing for a bold irresponsible statement on guns from me, which she did not get. Instead, she got reasonable, and clearly logical answers to her anti-gun rhetoric.

    As an investigative reporter, Gemma Mendoza is not impressive. A few times during our interview when I was giving a retort to every statement that she was making, she actually lost her cool and went off track on the interview, and lectured me that she personally covered the Ampatuan massacre and that she knew more than me on that. So I asked her if she carried a gun when she went to Mindanao, and she visibly got pissed. 🙂 She reminded me that it was her job to elicit emotional remarks and not mine. So what exactly emotional remarks or responses was she hoping for? Obviously she did not get what she wanted or was trying to elicit from me, so she trashed our whole interview and instead quoted an article of mine (she could not even mention me by name) which I wrote in Jan 2011- two months after our interview. So much for even handed reporting. 

    Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one. Each is entitled to his or her own opinion on guns. But the mark of a seasoned or ethical reporter is to get BOTH sides of the story. An article or reporter who bases her writings on facts obtained only from one side or particular source, is quite simply, not credible. That can clearly be seen from the article in that 90% or the quotes are from Prof. Jennifer Oreta of IANSA, and the anti-gun quarters of the PNP and military who are ignorant of the issues or incompetent in performing their jobs of protecting the people.

    I hope Gemma Mendoza is reading this post.

    Her lengthy article can be refuted on two simple points. First, the crimes that were mentioned in the article which involved firearms, including the Ampatuan Massacre, were clearly committed by criminals or terrorists using unlicensed firearms. None of those crimes mentioned were committed by civilians using licensed firearms. In fact, during our interview when this point was raised, I asked Gemma Mendoza to cite any specific instances wherein a crime was committed using a licensed firearm, and she could not. In fact I had the same answer: neither was I aware of any. She just shrugged it off.

    Second, the issue of the number of firearms owned by any individual is not a moral issue. Stated otherwise, a person could own 1 firearm or 1,000,000 and it would not be immoral to do so. The number of firearms that one person owns does not delve into his moral character or fitness to live peacefully in society. The so-called “propensity” of firearms owners to commit crimes is simply an opinion, and just that. But the empirical evidence disproves such an assumption since there are 1.2 million licensed gun owners in the Philippines and as per the PNP statistics less that 1% of all crimes committed with firearms were done using licensed firearms. I raised this issue during our interview with Gemma Mendoza and she turned a deaf ear to these statistics as if they didn’t exist. Again, this is not fair and balanced reporting. In fact, such slanted reporting borders upon unethical journalism since vital counter-information was deliberately concealed in an attempt to give anti-gun color to the article.

    So what else is new? The issues raised in the article are recycled issues that have been debated, argued, and disproven long ago between the Gunless Society and PROGUN. My message for the author: better luck next time.

    1. Dear Atty. Tabujara,

      I was not going to post a comment here directly until I noticed that you have a wrong recollection of our interview.  

      I did not tell you I covered the Ampatuan massacre.

      I said I wrote stories about the Ampatuans before the Maguindanao massacre happened. Here’s a couple of them and

      I said I didn’t bring any guns during my visits to Maguindanao and the Cotabato area because I didn’t see the need to do so. I visited the area, on my own, relying mostly on local contacts. 

      I am not asking you to be impressed at my skills as an investigative reporter. I just wish that you respond to arguments with arguments rather than resort to ad hominem attacks.

      And regarding your interview, you may want to refer to the second part in my series of articles on guns.

      I also got the “right to life” argument from our interview.  I just did not mention that it came from you.

      Thank you very much.




      1. Dear Ms. Gemma,

        Thank you for your candidness on this issue. Very few reporters such as yourself are as willing to respond to comments by readers.

        Permit me however to speak honestly and as candidly. As a professional journalist, I would have expected that your article would have been evenly balanced, neither favoring gun owners or anti-gunners. As it turned out, when 90% your articles quoted and gave preference to Prof Apples Oreta of IANSA, who is stridently anti-gun, and only a token irrelevant mention of the gun owners’ stand, then the article loses credibility and acquires a biased position. I know you may argue that your articles were fair, but that is not what the majority of your readers saw it. That is why the gun community has reacted in the manner in which they did. To see further reactions you may want to read here:

        We all have our biases. When I first met you, and you asked you first questions, I could immediately tell that you were anti-gun. That is why I took time to speak slowly and carefully choose my words lest I be misquoted as has been done to me in the past. But I would think that a professional journalist would be more apt to hide away and/or control her biases, if only for the moment, to ensure fairness and even handedness in the treatment of the article. In the same manner, a lawyer should also control his biases against a particular client, in order to let due process take its course. Thus as a layman I feel that the mark of good quality journalism is to write the article with minimum amount of personal prejudice, if any, coming through.

        Regarding what was said in our interview, I would have preferred that you simply posted the transcript of the entire interview, including all off interview remarks from me and you, instead of making it a “he said, she said” type of issue. As we say in law, “the original speaks for itself.” In which case, the entire transcript would clearly and accurately state what was said and discussed, in its entirety. I was also disappointed that very little of the most important points that I raised during our 2 hour interview were mentioned in both articles, as opposed to the lavish quotes you wrote for Prof. Oreta. Again, everyone else noticed this uneven treatment, not just me.

        If I may have offended you with my choice of words, I beg your pardon. As everyone on these boards knows, I call a spade a spade and I do not pull my punches. I am a true believer in free speech, no holds barred. So if my writing style does not come across as respectful my apologies; that’s just how I am.

  3. The interview with Gemma Mendoza was taped by her and I dare her to post on the internet the ENTIRE interview with me, including her off-interview remarks. And let the public judge and compare that interview with her article.

  4. Just to further clarify, the PNP statistics indicating that less than 1% of all crimes committed with firearms were done so using licensed firearms was collated from 2004 to 2008. That means that for those four years, 99% of all gun related criminal incidents were committed using unregistered or unlicensed firearms. 

    Maybe her true calling isn’t to be a journalist, perhaps she’s better suited to be a political lobbyist for the anti-gun lobby; assuming she’s not already one.


      1. Thank you for posting and participating in this forum.

        In response, it is clear that the statistics which you quoted in your article under the sub-head “Guns and crimes”, which are PNP statistics, hurt rather than strengthen your thesis. As per the statistics which you quoted, in 2008 out of a total of 3489 guns used in crimes only 15 were licensed (or a percentage of only .45% of the total) and 3,473 were loose. For the year 2009, of the 4894 guns that were used in crimes only 27 were licensed (or .55% of the total) whereas 4876 were unlicensed. Lastly in 2010, your statistics show that of the 6075 guns that were used in crimes, only 40 were licensed (or .65% of the total) whereas 6035 were unlicensed.

        Thus it is clear that your quoted figures from the PNP confirm that LESS THAN 1% of the total number of guns that were used in crimes in the years 2008-2010 were licensed. In contrast, the vast majority or more than 99% of guns used in crimes during said years were unlicensed. Therefore, PROGUN’s statement on this issue is accurate: The vast majority of crimes committed with firearms were committed using UNLICENSED and NOT LICENSED.

        You knew these statistics from the beginning. And yet, the theme of your article equates licensed firearms and legitimate gun owners with unlicensed firearms and criminals. There is clearly  no basis for such comparison.

        Let is be clear that PROGUN is against unlicensed firearms, and criminals who wield them. That is why PROGUN has always supported the PNP’s gun amnesty program which takes more loose guns off the streets and out of the hands of potential criminals, by legitimizing these loose firearms and bringing them, and their owners, back within the fold of the law. Thus gun amnesties DO work in reducing the number of loose firearms in the hands of civilian population. Bear in mind that only law abiding and responsible gun owners would avail of the gun amnesty, whereas criminals would not even bother to register their firearms, whether there is an amnesty or not. By their nature, criminals prefer unlicensed firearms since they are untraceable.

        Your sweeping statement that less guns equals less crime is misplaced. This has in fact been disproven in countries such as Switzerland, Israel, and some states within the United States,, wherein all males above the age of 18 are actually required to possess firearms, albeit in the form of assault rifles and military type weapons. The common crimes rates in these places is next to zero. I mentioned this in the interview but apparently, it was never mentioned in the article.

        Distinction should thus be made between licensed and unlicensed firearms, and between criminals and law abiding gun owners. Licensed firearms are compliant with the law and are therefore LEGAL, whereas unlicensed firearms are not compliant with the law and are therefore ILLEGAL. Licensed gun owners comply with the law and are therefore LAW ABIDING, whereas criminals do not follow the law and are therefore LAW BREAKERS. The two are not the same and cannot be equated with each other.

        PROGUN stands for the rights of law abiding and responsible guns owners, not criminals.

  5. In fairness to Newsbreak, they posted our response, in full, in their web site, here:

    As I mentioned, each and every person has his/her opinion on matters. As for me, I’m not going to wait to get abducted and killed by carjackers or the likes of the Ampatuans, before I take measures to defend myself. In fact, in response to the rise in criminality, I just renewed my Permit to Carry my Ruger LCP .380 pistol, which I stopped carrying since late last year. I may or may not need it. But I certainly will not sit around and let a criminal piss on my grave after murdering me or my family.

    This is not the United States, nor Western Europe where the police are professional and efficient. Let’s not kid ourselves: the police in the Philippines are in fact INEFFECTUAL in preventing this massive crime wave that we are in. Worse, some police are often COMPLICIT in the commission or crimes and corruption. It is desperate times, which sad to say, force citizens to take desperate measures. We are supposed to be a nation of laws, and no one would want to take the law into his own hands. But when those who are tasked with enforcing and upholding the law abdicate their role as protectors of the people, then the people have the moral right to do what is necessary pursuant to their human and God-given right, to defend themselves.

    1. When Sen. Drilon came up with his Senate Bill 129, PDI gave it quite an extensive coverage befitting a major event.  A few days later, one of its lady columnists known for her anti-gun bias sang hossanas about the bill in her column. After the article of Ms. Mendoza came out, one of the veteran columnists of PDI practically quoted her article in his column.  Yet, I have not seen any rejoinder from “the other side” published.

      The trend appears to be an effort to demonize legal firearms and its owners.

  6. What’s wrong with these people? Don’t they get it? 




    -If everyone else in that convoy was ARMED, then there wouldn’t even be a MAGUINDANAO MASSACRE. If they were all ARMED, then they MIGHT have lived.


    – If those car dealers were ARMED, then maybe they MIGHT have turned things the other way around.


    I’ve got a lot of stories out here, and they all didn’t turned out well for the victims. Look, my point is simple. If things like these happens to me, I’d rather die DEFENDING myself and my family.”SELF-DEFENSE IS NOT A CRIME, IN THE LAWS OF MEN AND IN THE EYES OF GOD”. 

    Yeah, I GET IT… YOUR PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD… but there’s one thing that i’m sure of…my SIG SAUER P226 .40S&W is mightier than your PEN.

    I’ll leave you something to think about… COPS RESPONSE TIME = 10mins or more; REMOVING A GUN FROM HOLSTER = LESS THAN 2 SECS.

      Well, no matter how we educate these “NO BRAINERS”…EXPERIENCE IS STILL THE BEST TEACHER..

    For me, If someone threatens me or my family, i have a gun to DEFEND myself and my family. Huh..and you, well, good luck with your pen.

    1. Aside from being intellectually challenged, they must love criminals so much that they want to protect them against us, the big, bad, law abiding citizens who refuse to be victims and fight back.

      Supporting this is their efforts to demonize legal FA owners to create a new breed of criminals…..”victimless criminals”.    Ergo, THEY LOVE CRIMINALS!

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