Camp Crame, QC, Feb. 4, 2003 - Stung by criticism that criminality could worsen after responsible citizens were disallowed from carrying guns outside their homes, Philippine National Police chief Director General Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. admitted yesterday that the PNP cannot single-handedly solve the peace and order situation in the country.

Ebdane made the admission as gun owners threatened to question in court President Arroyo's cancellation last week of all permits to carry firearms outside residences (PTCFORs) issued to civilians.

While scores of gun owners demonstrated outside the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) building in Quezon City, Ebdane admitted the police cannot single-handedly solve criminality and asked pro-gun groups to help in the anti-crime drive instead.

"To be candid about it, we cannot secure the individual citizen on a one-on-one basis," Ebdane admitted even as the Makati Business Club released survey results showing that the PNP received low performance ratings from the country's top businessmen.

"If that is the truth (the survey results) then we have to accept it. As I have been saying before, we have to do everything that we can," Ebdane said.

Instead, he lashed at gun owners' groups for saying that the police cannot solely handle the crime problem.

"I would suggest they just keep silent. Being the chief and a shooter, I know how they feel but we have to put everything in order," Ebdane said. Gun owners: See you in court But gun owners appeared unfazed as they demonstrated in front of the DILG offices brandishing eggplants to symbolize the public's helplessness against criminality before a two-hour meeting with Interior and Local Government Secretary Jose Lina Jr.

Lawyer John Noel Mendoza of the People for the Responsible Ownership of Guns (ProGun) said gun owners will likely contest in court the cancellation of their PTCFORs after Lina rejected their appeal to reconsider the cancellation of their permits.

"We have made our statement and since the DILG rejected our appeal, we will bring the issue to the court," Mendoza said.

Aside from Mendoza, the gun owners were represented in the meeting with Lina by Demetrio Tuazon, president of the Firearms and Ammunitions Dealers of the Philippines, and movie actor Sonny Parsons, who has twice been victimized by robbers.

Mendoza said the cancellation of their paid permits was made without consulting licensed gun owners who have valid reasons to carry firearms outside their homes. The move, he said, would ultimately result in the proliferation of unlicensed guns and embolden criminals to press on their activities because responsible citizens have been disallowed to bring their guns outside their homes.

Lina, on the other hand, said the interest of the general public must prevail over the interest of a few.

"The interest of 80 million Filipinos must prevail over the interest of 31,000 gun holders," Lina told the gun owners' representatives.

Lina said that a permit to carry guns was a privilege and not a right and that the presidential directive was within the bounds of the law.

"A permit is not a contract. It's a privilege. The law does not grant the right to carry firearms," Lina said. (By Christina Mendez And Perseus Echeminada, Star)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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