PNP aims sight at 'loose' guns Updated 02:45am (Mla time) Aug 19, 2004 By Christian Esguerra Inquirer News Service Editor's Note: Published on page A1 of the August 19, 2004 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer THEY may not be economists but they have an idea or two about how to help fix the chronic national budget deficit. Aware that the administration is trying desperately to raise revenues, the Philippine National Police hopes to generate at least P300 million in income for the government by going after some 200,000 owners of loose or unlicensed firearms. The Civil Security Group (CSG), the PNP's main income-generating unit, has drawn up an elaborate program to jack up its income. At the top of the project is to have loose firearms registered. About 200,000 guns are considered "loose" because their legitimate owners have yet to renew their registrations, according to Senior Superintendent Arturo Cacdac, chief of the Firearms and Explosives Division (FED). That number is on top of the estimated figure of 320,995 loose firearms since the time of the Corazon Aquino administration, counting those in the hands of criminal gangs, "private armies" and other groups. Cacdac said the PNP was looking into the possibility of getting those estimated 320,995 firearms registered through an amnesty program, primarily to keep their owners from using them in criminal activities. The earlier amnesty program ended last month and raised around P11 million for the PNP, he said. By having the other batch of 200,000 guns registered, the PNP estimates to generate at least P300 million, assuming that each firearm is a .45-cal. pistol, said Superintendent Robert Po, FED chief for operations. Renewing the license for a .45-cal. pistol would cost P1,438 under the revised rates. 80-20 sharing The rates for other firearms are -- a high powered rifle or submachine gun, P2,258; a 9-mm pistol, P1,138; a shotgun, P1,078, and a .22-cal. rifle, P1,018. Po said income generated by the CSG would be important for the government since a huge part of the total collection would go to the National Treasury, with only 20 percent going to the PNP for its operations. Last year, the PNP collected P64,591,254 from the renewal of gun licenses, including applications for permit to carry firearms outside of residences, FED records showed. Po said the FED would most probably not raise as much this year, considering that only P32,419,055 had been collected as of last month. That is because this year is an "odd year" since a gun license expires every two years, he said. Aggressive campaign "Actually, it's very hard to make projections because you won't know how much you'll earn in any given year," Cacdac told the Inquirer. "But our goal is to have better collections every year." With the government looking for just about any source for extra income, the PNP decided to aggressively pursue all gun owners with expired licenses. It plans to send individual letters, complete with registration forms, to each owner of the 200,000 guns with expired licenses. Chief Superintendent Jaime Caringal, the head of the CSG, said doing this would cost the PNP at least P2 million alone, with stamps pegged at P10 each. To limit the costs, Caringal decided that PNP regional and provincial offices should themselves send the letters to gun owners. Satellite Offices Next week, a gun license express renewal office will be opened in Cebu, servicing gun owners in the Visayas. A similar office will open in Davao next month for Mindanao gun owners. By putting up satellite offices in Cebu and Davao, the PNP would ease the burden on gun owners outside of Luzon, who in the past had to travel all the way to Camp Crame, the national police headquarters in Quezon City, just to have their gun licenses renewed, Cacdac said. ********************************************************* Shouldn't they be after loose firearms EVEN IF there is no money deficit?! Sometimes, we Filipinos need to be pushed to the cliff's edge before we're galvanized into action.