If Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña had his way, he would allow licensed gun owners to carry their firearms outside their homes during the Sinulog celebration.
That way, he said, those wishing to launch terror attacks will think twice about enacting their plans.
“It will help because those people won’t prefer to move. You try to create trouble, everyone will shoot you,” he told reporters in yesterday’s press conference after the gun ban started yesterday.
The mayor voiced his opposition against the 10-day gun ban imposed in Cebu City and the rest of the province that went into effect after it was approved by Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa.
The Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) said it would conduct random checkpoints in Metro Cebu and the rest of the province to enforce the gun ban order.
But Osmeña said terrorists and those wanting to create chaos could be kept in check by law-abiding gun owners.
Those who follow the law are not the enemies, he said.
“Those who will follow the orders are those who are law abiding. It is the opposite,” he said.
When asked if he will ask the police to lift the gun ban, Osmeña said he does not like to talk to them.
“It’s up to them, they will decide on it,” he said in Cebuano.
Councilor Dave Tumulak said the gun ban is part of the police’s efforts to prevent the use of unlicensed firearms.
“Those with unlicensed firearms will face charges for not having a license and another case if they violate the gun ban. It’s better to have a gun ban,” he said.
Tumulak, also the deputy mayor on police matters, said they will make sure that only soldiers, police and other law enforcers will be allowed to carry firearms. The gun ban is in effect until Jan. 18.
Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, PRO-7 chief, said a gun ban is considered “standard operating procedure” for big events like the Sinulog.
When asked about Mayor Osmeña’s stand that gun owners should be allowed to carry their firearms to help fight terrorists, Taliño said the police will augment their security measures to protect the public.
“What we are preventing here are firearm-related incidents. Our concern here is just the security of the people. We have no other intention,” he said.
Taliño said the PNP will not entertain requests for gun ban exemption.
Civilians, off-duty cops, military and security personnel found to be carrying guns outside their houses will be arrested for illegal possession of firearms.
Aside from the gun ban, the police also intends to shut down cell phone and internet signals at the procession and parade routes.
From 5,000, the number of law enforcers and private security personnel who will secure the crowd was recently increased to 8,000.
Still, Taliño said there are “no imminent, direct, and specific threats,” as well as “clear and present dangers.”
“But there are fears that terrorists groups may launch an offensive to get back at the government who has been conducting massive operations against them,” he said.
Taliño said the photos of Abu Sayyaf bandits with existing arrest warrants and the bombing suspects will be posted in strategic areas to help authorities arrest them./With USJ-R Intern John Carlo Vilaruel