Stiffer penalties for firearms smuggling sought

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The Committee on Justice is now in receipt of the proposed “Anti-Firearms Smuggling Act of 2013” which imposes stiffer penalties ranging from 12 to 20 years, and even up to life imprisonment and fines of P1 million to P5 million.

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“Smuggling of firearms is a dangerous but profitable criminal enterprise. It not only threatens public safety and national security but also endangers and oftentimes, results in loss of lives of innocent persons,” said Rep. Roy M. Loyola (5th District, Cavite), author of HB 2696.

Loyola stressed that possession of smuggled firearms, more often than not, emboldens the person in possession of the firearm to commit more serious offenses such as, but not limited to, murder, homicide, rebellion, piracy, kidnapping and armed robbery.

The Philippines, Loyola lamented, is rated second in terms of the number of firearms that are smuggled into Japan. The country, he added, is a producer and trans-shipper of smuggled firearms and is also a final destination of smuggled firearms.

“The growing illicit trade can be attributed to the lack of anti-firearms laws in the country, our long coastline and the great demand for them by criminal syndicates, Muslim secessionists and other militant groups. The firearms and ammunition used by the Abu Sayaff are believed to have been smuggled into the Philippines via the so-called “southern backdoor,” he pointed out.

HB 2696 defines firearms smuggling as the act of any person who, through the use of fraudulent machinations, shall import or bring into, or export from the Philippines, or assist in so doing, any firearm or parts thereof, explosive or ammunition or machine, implements, equipment or tools for the manufacture of firearms.

“It shall also likewise refer to the act of any person who, contrary to law, shall receive, conceal, buy, sell or in any manner facilitate the transportation, concealment or sale of said firearms or parts thereof, explosive or ammunition or machine, implements or explosives after importation, knowing the same to have been imported contrary to law,” the bill states.

The measure clearly provides for the definition of acts constituting the crime of firearms smuggling and the corresponding penalties.

Any criminal action arising from any violation of the proposed statute shall be filed with the Regional Trial Court of the place where the offense was committed and the court first taking cognizance of the case shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of other courts.

“Possession, importation or exportation of any firearm or parts thereof, explosive, ammunition or machines, implements, equipment or tools for the manufacture of firearms, ammunition or explosive without the necessary license to possess, manufacture or to import or export them shall be prima facie evidence of firearms smuggling. PNA

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