Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, a constitutional expert, today expressed doubts over the legality of the imposed gun ban by Western Visayas Police Director Cipriano Querol Jr., in eight towns in Iloilo. The gun ban, which was approved by Philippine National Police Chief Raul Bacalzo, is being implemented in the towns of Ajuy, Sara, Estancia, Balasan, Carles, Concepcion, Batad, and San Dionisio.
The affected towns are all within the fifth congressional district of Iloilo. The stated reason for the ban was to allegedly curb loose firearms and the rise of criminality in those areas. However, the towns of Barotac Viejo, San Rafael, and Lemery, which are all within the same district, were excluded from the ban. Only members of the PNP, military, and other law enforcement agencies on official business and wearing the prescribed uniforms would be allowed to carry firearms in the eight towns.
Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor, however, said that the gun ban is wrong, reckless, and baseless. He said that there is no state of lawlessness or rampant criminality in the affected areas that would warrant a gun ban.
He expressed concern over those who need security outside their homes, including public officials with death threats and businessmen who are possible targets of robbery and kidnapping. News reports cited statistics from the Iloilo Provincial Police Office showing that the crime rate in the district went down by 40 percent from April to June of this year.
Sources alluded to political motivations behind the gun ban, noting that the towns affected by the gun ban are all within the fifth congressional district of Iloilo. The district is among the most contested areas in previous elections.
Santiago questioned why there was no investigation, public consultation, or inquiry prior to the gun ban to determine whether the ban was necessary, reasonable, or sound. The senator said that the PNP provincial director, the governor, and the mayors of the towns affected by the ban should have been consulted, considering that they are in the best position to know the peace and order situation in their areas.
The Senator filed today Senate Resolution No. 531 calling for a Senate inquiry on the legality of the gun ban in eight towns in Iloilo.