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Thursday, 30 January, 2003, 12:39 GMT
Philippines leader wants gun crackdown
Female police officers march during the 12th anniversary of the Philippine national police
Only the military and police should now be armed
Philippines President Gloria Arroyo has called for a crackdown on civilians carrying guns in public places.

"This will help minimise crime but what about people like us... we have many enemies and we have received death threats - we would be sitting ducks

Anti-crime activist Dante Jimenez
In a speech at police headquarters in Quezon City, she ordered police to suspend the issuance of permits to carry firearms in public places.

It was unclear how effective the order would be in a country which is wracked by gun violence.

There are more than 800,000 licensed gun owners in the Philippines, but millions more firearms are owned illegally.

Exemptions

Although carrying guns in public is already illegal, there are a multitude of exemptions.

Vice-President Gloria Arroyo
Gloria Arroyo is accused of not doing enough to curb crime

Movie stars, judges, politicians and those living under death threats are all currently exempt.

Mrs Arroyo vowed to close those loopholes.

"Only the uniformed men in the military and authorised law enforcement officers can carry firearms in public," said the president.

And when asked about corrupt policeman linked to crime gangs, she promised to "jail the rascals in uniform".

Sitting ducks

Anti-crime activists gave a mixed reaction to the move.

"This is a double-edged move," Dante Jimenez, head of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption watchdog group told Reuters news agency.

"This will help minimise crime but what about people like us... we have many enemies and we have received death threats. We would be sitting ducks."

Meanwhile correspondents say that President Arroyo has failed to address the key issues of poverty and crime during her administration.

This latest move suggests she is seeking to rectify this before her presidential term ends in 2004.

Gun ownership in the Philippines was brought into focus on 10 January when a law school graduate, Jose Ramon Llamas, was shot after a minor confrontation with another motorist.

Interior Secretary Jose Lina said earlier this month that unlicensed weapons were involved in 85% of gun-related crimes in the Philippines.

See also:

30 Dec 02 | Asia-Pacific
10 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
20 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
20 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
21 Dec 02 | Asia-Pacific
06 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
16 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
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