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Lapid bill vs celebratory gunfire still pending in Senate close to a year after filing
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippine -- A bill filed by Senator Lito Lapid calling for stiffer penalties against the illegal discharge of firearms, particularly when celebrating holidays, remains pending with the Senate committee on constitutional amendments, revision of codes and laws.

The explanatory note to Senate Bill No. 3114, which was filed on January 31, 2012, says “the measure (aims) to provide … stiffer penalties on celebratory gunfire so as to altogether stop preventable deaths which result from wanton and reckless acts of irresponsible individuals who have no regard for the interest and safety of others.”

At the start of the year, celebratory gunfire and the issue of gun control and ownership again came to the fore after the deaths of seven-year old Stephanie Nicole Ella of Caloocan City and Mayette Miranda of Kalibo, Aklan -- two of 40 persons hit by stray bullets on New Year’s Eve -- died.

Noong isang taon pa ako nanawagan na pataasin ang parusa doon sa mga nagpapaputok ng baril sa Bagong Taon dahil napag-alaman ko na napakababa pala ang parusa sa mga ito (Since last year I have been calling for stiffer penalties for those who fire guns on New Year’s after I learned how low the penalty is),” Lapid said, citing Article 254 of the Revised Penal Code, which metes a penalty of only six months’ imprisonment.

And, he added, the article requires that a gun be aimed at a person before the punishment can be imposed.

Article 254 provides: “Any person who shall shoot at another with any firearm shall suffer the penalty of prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods, unless the facts of the case are such that the act can be held to constitute frustrated or attempted parricide, murder, homicide or any other crime for which a higher penalty is prescribed by any of the articles of this Code.”

Lalabas, hindi pa saklaw ng kasalukukuyang batas itong pagpapaputok ng baril sa ere at maaaring patawan pa ng parusang mas mababa (It appears that current law does not cover firing into the air and there is the possibility of a lower penalty being imposed,” Lapid said.

In Lapid’s bill, if a shooting results in death, the penalty of reclusion perpetua, or up to 40 years imprisonment, shall be imposed.

If the shooter is a member of the national police, armed forces or any law enforcement agency, the penalty of reclusion temporal in its maximum period, or 20 years, shall be imposed.

Kapag naipasa ang panukalang ito, siguradong mag-iisip na ang mga may baril bago sila magpaputok sa ere dahil mapaparusahan sila at ng mas matagal pa na sa pagkakakulong (If this bill is passed, gun owners will surely think twice before firing in the air because they face longer jail terms),” Lapid said.