EDITORIAL - Disarmed
() - November 14, 2005 - 12:00am
This is why the campaign against loose firearms cannot get off the ground. At around 2:30 a.m. last Friday, members of the Lipa police on an "Oplan Bakal" campaign against loose firearms disarmed a drunken man in a bar, seizing an M-16 rifle and a caliber .45 pistol.

The armed man turned out to be an Army captain — the operations officer of the elite Special Forces company in Southern Tagalog, Rommil Abayon. He stalked out of the nightclub but soon after stormed the Lipa City police station with 40 of his men, and proceeded to divest 15 cops of their service firearms. Good thing there was no firefight. And good thing communist rebels did not get wind of this, or they would have raided the unprotected police station. The Special Forces members walked away with four rifles and nine handguns, and of course Abayon’s seized firearms.

The only good news in this sordid affair is that Abayon has been relieved of his post and confined to quarters, and the guns returned to the Lipa police. The incident, however, shows the difficulties of enforcing gun laws in this country. Off-duty soldiers are not supposed to carry guns, especially in nightclubs. This is rarely enforced. Among the biggest contributors to the proliferation of loose firearms are politicians, who maintain private armies with enough firepower to wipe out an entire barangay. It’s not just the security escorts who are heavily armed but also their relatives and friends. Who will dare disarm these people?

In certain parts of Mindanao, no one dares disarm any person claiming to be a member of the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front as long as the group is negotiating peace with the government. Go to MILF enclaves and you will see even young boys openly toting rifles.

It takes political will to go after these loose firearms — something we have not seen so far. Abayon at least might get the punishment he deserves.

ABAYON FIREARMS LIPA CITY LOOSE MINDANAO MORO ISLAMIC LIBERATION FRONT OPLAN BAKAL ROMMIL ABAYON SOUTHERN TAGALOG SPECIAL FORCES
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