THE case of Vhon Martin Tanto, the ex-Army reservist who is now in jail after shooting a biker in Quiapo, Manila, ought to teach all Filipino licensed gunholders a lesson: you can only use your firearm to defend yourself and your family and not shoot a hapless target since you will end up behind bars.
Philippine National Police Firearms and Explosives Office director, Senior Superintendent Cesar Hawthorne Binag, said the Quiapo incident that led in the killing of Mark Vincent Garalde should also prod all concerned individuals to know what the word ‘responsible gun ownership’ means to the letter.
In Tanto’s case, he used a presumably licensed pistol which he carries without a Permit to Carry Firearm Outside of Residence or PTCFOR -- which is a wanton violation of the law -- to shoot Garalde after the victim beat him in a fistfight following a traffic altercation in Carlos Palanca St. in Quiapo on the night of July 25.
Captured by security troops in Masbate and presented to PNP chief, Director General Ronald ‘Bato’ M. dela Rosa last Saturday, Tanto claimed the victim provoked him into committing the murder. “I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean for this to happen. I’m really sorry. Nagdilim lang talaga paningin ko. To those who are listening, I’m really sorry to all of you.”
Despite his apologies, Tanto is now facing charges for murder and frustrated murder and faces the prospect of having to spend the rest of his life in jail. The frustrated murder case stemmed from the case of 18-year old college student Rocel Bondoc who was hit in the back by a stray bullet from Tanto’s gun.
Last Thursday, Binag said that on orders of Gen. dela Rosa, they have revoked the gun licenses issued to Tanto and ordered him to immediately surrender his licensed weapons. A team of PNP-FEO officers served the revocation order to Tanto’s given address in Manila on Thursday afternoon.
In case he fails to surrender his licensed firearms, Binag said they would declare them loose or illegally-owned and subject them to search warrant proceedings for illegal possession of firearms.
A number of licensed gunholders in the past were also issued the same revocation order after being involved in infraction of the law, major or minor crimes included. They include some motorists who were caught on CCTV using their licensed guns to threaten fellow motorists or traffic enforcers as well as those arrested for serious offenses like drugs, murder and homicide and serious physical injuries.
A member of Philippine Military Academy Class 1987, Binag said that in case it would be proven that Tanto used one of his licensed guns in shooting Garalde, he would be facing more trouble since he would be perpetually disqualified from applying for any firearm license in the future.
PNP-FEO records showed that Tanto owns three guns -- two caliber .45 pistols and one caliber .40 pistol. The license for one of his guns will expire on December 11 this year.
Binag said that Tanto is not a holder of a PTCFOR nor a Permit to Transport for his handguns.
“Ang pagkakaroon ng baril ay isang pribilehiyo, hindi isang karapatan so anytime, the government can revoke the license of a gunholder,” he said.