Lawmakers are not frisked for firearms in Batasan

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Security guards in the House of Representatives are having a hard time enforcing the firearms ban at the Batasang Pambansa because they can’t literally touch House members, it was learned Friday.

A security guard at the House who refused to be named made the disclosure less than 24 hours after Cagayan de Oro Benjamin Benaldo apparently shot himself in his Batasan office with a 9 mm pistol.

The gun was seen on his table and he was alone in his office at the time of the incident.

“It is difficult know if they (congressmen) are carrying firearms because we can’t frisk them. It is not allowed, so they can just enter the building, along with their bags,” the guard told The Manila Times.


The guards can search the legislator’s bodyguards but even then there are bodyguards who refuse to subject themselves to inspection, he said.

“There are those who voluntarily surrender their firearms, but there are also those who refused to be frisked, especially those who work for lawmakers from Mindanao,” the guard said.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. of Quezon City conceded that the firearms ban is not strictly enforced.

“There is a policy against but it is hard to implement in so far as members are concerned. Nevertheless, I have asked Quezon City Police District Director (QCPD) Senior Superintendent Richard Albano to check all angles, including [the]carrying of firearms inside [Batasan],” Belmonte said in a text message.

House Assistant Majority Leader Sherwin Tugna believes it is about time that the gun ban be strictly enforced at the House.

Tugna said security guards usually allow those in power not to follow the rules. “The House should be strict. For the elected officials who have death threats, they can take comfort and be secure that even if their bodyguards have no guns inside the House premises, no other guns can enter the premises,” he said.

LLANESCA T. PANTI

 

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