The Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs has asked the Philippine National Police (PNP) to explain why it authorized a courier service firm to handle the delivery of approved firearms licenses despite a temporary restraining order issued by the Supreme Court (SC).
Senator Grace Poe, the chairperson of the panel, ordered the PNP to submit all documents relating to the gun license courier service deal it signed with Werfast.
The PNP has ended its contract with Werfast because the latter’s fitness as a delivery service was questioned and because it allegedly charged gun owners exorbitant fees.
Werfast charged each gun owner P190 for the delivery of a gun license.
There were reports that Werfast only acted as a “middleman” and employed another courier service provider that charged a cheaper service fee.
“Please submit to the committee the minutes of the meeting granting the right to the Werfast group to handle the courier service, who is the one who authorized it, as well as the details of the bidding process,” Poe told the police officers who attended the committee hearing on Wednesday.
The committee hearing discussed issues relating to Republic Act 10591 or the Gun Control Act particularly the centralization of gun registration and the controversial license delivery system implemented by the PNP.
“Did this go through a bidding? By explaining yourselves, our people will trust you.
The public must not be forced to pay for the services of a courier at a higher cost. Why pay P190 when the cost should only be about P100?” Poe asked.
Various groups and gun owners filed a petition against the new policy of the PNP at the SC.
Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. pointed out that those who register their firearms regularly are gun owners who do not intend to use their guns in criminal activities.
“Why would somebody who intends to use his gun to carry out a robbery or kill someone register his firearm?” Marcos asked.
PNP-Firearms and Explosive Office chief for operation Supt. Robert Po told the committee that according to their records no gun owner with a permit to carry firearms outside residence (PTCFOR) has been involved in a gun-related crime.
Marcos said the PNP should come up with a new policy that will somehow make it easy for gun permit holders to comply with the gun registration requirement.
Poe also asked the PNP to uphold the constitutional rights of registered gun owners when it inspects their homes.
“We don’t want the police to be knocking on our doors if it’s not called for,” Poe noted.
Poe was referring to the PNP’s Oplan Katok in which police officers visit the residences of gun owners to check on the status of their firearm licenses.
The PNP said it has visited 526,714 homes of registered firearms owners.