Gun law (Part 1)
The Constitution provides safeguards based on lessons learned from the Martial Law (ML) experience which abolished and literally padlocked the Congressional and Senate session halls so representatives of the people in the Legislative Branch of government would be barred from holding any official business. A historical picture is in the Salvador Laurel biography.
Article VII-Executive Department, Sec. 18 of the Constitution mandates: “Within 48 hours from proclamation of martial law, the President shall submit a report in person or in writing to the Congress….The Congress…in regular or special session may revoke such proclamation which shall not be set aside by the President…”
Sadly, unchallenged and residual influences of ML may still be around, particularly in both official and uniformed psyche when it pertains to civilians possessing legal firearms. What questions and lessons can we learn from the days of dictatorship?
1) Does the President of the Philippines in declaring ML have the authority to disarm the entire civilian population of registered and legal firearms?
2) Should the PNP, AFP, other law enforcement agencies alone, be authorized to “bear arms?”. If at all, based on history, wisdom instructs, government abuse and authoritarian regimes prosper before a helpless population rendered naked to defend their rights and liberties when assaulted by domestic (or foreign) installed regimes of paramount force. Those who are sworn to maintain law, order, and protect this great country must recalibrate this thinking, that they alone have sole authority/responsibility to possess firearms. Their sense of history is short-sighted, relishing the ML days when men in uniform enjoyed prime status over taxpaying citizens, since they arrested, detained, and jailed congressmen and senators, being Praetorian guards of the regime. They forgot our first revolutions, and how the country is geographically center to Southeast Asia, and the wave of colonial/imperial conquests that dominated our people. Even to this day, we are in the cross-currents of geo-political fissures armed to the teeth.
The Philippines, unlike in the US Constitution, specifically fails to provision the “right to bear arms.” Natural Law, however, is ascendant over any constitution, and presupposes such manifest right exists. Hence, it is neither granted or to be abrogated by any Constitution, but may only be recognized, as self-evident — the right to defend oneself, family, strangers, and country.
Further, Constitutions, laws, and institutions should reflect history, not vice-versa. From 1521 to 1907, roughly a hundred people’s armed revolts against tyranny – Lapu-Lapu at Mactan, the Katipunan, the Philippine Revolution with two decrees issued in Kawit, Cavite, for a citizens guard in every town – various Constitutions, to the 1987 Charter mandating an AFP composed of Citizen’s Armed Force (Art. XVI-General Provisions, Sec. 4) are preponderant reminders, and from from our forefathers, of a regulated armed citizenry as an indispensable pillar for the security of the state, and the freedom it enjoys.
Regulated refers to background check, psychological test, etc. Failing such, this right may be curtailed for the safety of an orderly society.