At the start of his administration, President Aquino made much to do about the self-importance of politicians, government functionaries, private motorists and police and military not on regular duty in going around with blaring police sirens in order to cut traffic and generally make hell out of traffic rules and the lives of commuters and other motorists. The arrogant practice, as everyone knows, is an instance of the culture of entitlement permeating Philippine society, especially affecting the powers-that-be and the powers-wanna-be. “Wala nang wang-wang,” Aquino proudly announced. To set a good example, he himself said that his presidential convoy would go around without a “wang-wang.” And so be it.

But alas, it appears that while generally denying himself the convenience of a police siren to negotiate his way through the hell of Manila traffic, the President has entitled himself to a far bigger privilege: the privilege to carry a gun around. In fact, against the election gun ban, he has applied for exemption and gotten the permission from the Commission on Elections. Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said he saw nothing wrong with the exemption since as president, Aquino is supposed to be commander in chief of the armed forces. So why shouldn’t the commander in chief himself go around armed?

One word: overkill. Another word: insensitive.

It would be an overkill for the President to go around, armed since, aside from heading the armed forces, he has at his immediate command of his own Presidential Security Group which is perhaps the most advanced and best equipped of the special forces of the AFP. His application for an exemption should show at the least that he did not have faith in his own PSG, his own Yellow Army, in a manner of speaking.

Student participation in council elections lamented

The President and his claque in Malacañang and his clique in the Comelec said it was not remote to the public that he is a gun enthusiast and sportsman and he has perfectly the right to own a gun and carry it around. Well, as a marksman and one engaged in competitive shooting, the President should only sport his gun in the firing range, not in public, especially in presidential functions, because that would be overkill.

But, the best reason the President should not have applied for exemption is that he should have been sensitive to public sentiment. Even before the start of the year and the election season, the Filipinos had been shocked by the Colorado and Connecticut massacres, incidents that, taking into account previous massacres like them at Virginia Tech and Columbine, should show the sickness of American society for its romance of the gun.

But alas, the Philippines herself is not immune from the sickness permeating gun-crazy societies like America. For on the eve of 2013, an unprecedented number of people fell victim to illegal firing that usually happens during the New Year’s Eve revelry. Two of the victims were kids: Stephanie Nicole Ella, 7, and Ranjilo Nemer, 4. Guess who are the suspected perpetrators? Gun owners, including those from the police and the armed forces of which a gun romancer is commander in chief.

Since then and despite the gun ban, shootings and criminal incidents in which guns were involved have multiplied. In Cebu, despite the gun ban and the prohibition against the carrying of guns in court, a Canadian shot dead a physician-plaintiff and his lawyer and severely wounded a public prosecutor before shooting himself dead. Late last month, a jewelry heist occurred at an SM mall with the robbers able to carry their guns inside despite the security checkpoint at the mall’s gates and amid the election gun ban. Previously last year, a woman shot dead her philandering husband and a male teenager shot dead her teenager boyfriend in a homosexual fit of jealousy, all inside SM malls.

The song of Odile

But believe it or not, public safety authorities have responded to these incidents by generally calling for the arming of security guards! Amid the alarming sight of Philippine shopping mall guards armed to the teeth, the President and his interior ministers and police and military seem impervious to the fact that as far as the civil defense situation is concerned, it is only in Philippine malls that shoppers get frisked and subject themselves to security checks by blue guards coming from security agencies owned by former police and military officers who, during their tour of duty, had made a mess of public safety and security so that in retirement, they have earned their right to become security moguls!

And as far as tourists are concerned, presented with the sight of the security mania of our shopping malls and the gun-craziness of Philippine officialdom starting from the Rambo sitting in Malacanang, it’s really more fun in the Philippines, indeed!

Late last year, Batangas Archbishop Ramon Arguelles made an analogy between the gruesome Connecticut school massacre and President Aquino eventually signing the Reproductive Health bill that had been passed on third reading by both houses of Congress. In Connecticut, Arguelles said, a 20-year-old gunman killed 20 children and seven adults. “Our President intends to kill 20 million children with a fountain pen [by signing] the RH bill into law,” the bishop said.

(But Arguelles was wrong: It turned out that the President had already signed the bill even earlier but only announced it later. As the Tagalogs would say: “Ang mga gumagawa nga naman ng kasalanan, tinatago ang ginagawa.”)


Presidential Spokesperson Eduardo Lacierda said Arguelles’ remarks were unbecoming of a bishop, but it is the President’s application for a gun permit in the face of so much gun violence that is really unseemly. The Varsitarian supports the stand of Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma and other Catholic bishops for strict gun control, with or without election.

But the charged metaphor of the bishop was only fitting. And he was only being prophetic. Because since then, Aquino has shown his true colors as a rabid gun enthusiast under whose administration loose firearms have multiplied and the right to life has more and more been compromised, if not endangered. Death stalks the nation right at this moment on the invitation of the powers that be from Malacañang.


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