A series of high-profile shooting sprees has prompted a temporary tightening of gun laws in the Philippines in the run up to national elections
Jaime “Jimmy” Santiago checks his service pistol before attending the hearing of a case at the Regional Trial Court in Manila.
Once a police officer who led a special weapons and tactics (SWAT) unit, Santiago traded his police uniform for a black judge’s robe and is now a lower court judge in Manila. Santiago supports arming Filipino judges so that they can protect themselves from discontented litigants who are unable to accept court decisions and criminal organisations whose members are sent to jail.
In January this year, a disgruntled Canadian national went on a shooting spree in a courtroom on Cebu Island, killing two and injuring a prosecutor before being shot himself. In the same month, a failed candidate in an election for village chief killed eight of his neighbours when he opened fire, and a gun barrage at a police roadblock resulted in 13 fatalities.
Such incidents have rekindled the growing national debate over firearms regulation in a country whose enthusiastic gun culture rivals America’s. It is legal to carry a gun in public with a permit, yet this regulation is not always well enforced. Currently, police estimate the number of unregistered guns in private hands to be approximately 500,000.
A temporary ban on carrying guns in public has now been imposed in an attempt to curb violence in the run up to national elections in May. The ban is scheduled to be lifted on June 12.
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