HOR Complex, Quezon City (DWDD) – The House committee on public order and safety chaired by Rep. Romeo Acop (2nd District, Antipolo City) recently approved a substitute bill which seeks to provide stiffer penalties for illegal and indiscriminate discharge of firearms.
The unnumbered bill substituted House Bills 176, 1348 and 3837 authored respectively, by Reps. Karlo Alexei Nograles (1st District, Davao City) and Jericho Nograles (Party-list, PBA), Acop, and Bernadette Herrera-Dy (Party-list, Bagong Henerasyon).
The bill seeks to amend Article 254 of Act No. 3815, as amended, otherwise known as the “Revised Penal Code of the Philippines” and Republic Act 10591 or “The Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act”.
The amendment to Article 254 of the Revised Penal Code provides:
Article 254. Discharge of firearms. – Any person who shall shoot at another with any firearm or any device, without lawful authority, shall suffer the penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period, 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.
If the discharge of firearm shall result in the death of a victim, the penalty of prision mayor shall be imposed.
If the person responsible for the discharge of firearm shall be a member of the national police, armed forces or any law enforcement agency authorized by law to bear arms, the penalty one degree higher that that provided in the foregoing paragraphs shall be imposed.
Meanwhile, the amendment to RA No. 10591 is the insertion of a new section after Section 41 which shall read as follows:
Section 42. Indiscriminate discharge of firearm; definition; penalties. – Any person who shall discharge or shoot any firearm or any device without lawful authority, or in a random, aimless, purposeless or indiscriminate manner, or during any occasion where firing is not authorized, that would potentially endanger persons or things or affect public order and peace, the penalty of prision mayor in its medium period shall be imposed.
If the indiscriminate discharge of firearm or device shall result in injuries to person or damage to property, the resulting crimes shall be considered as distinct and separate offenses.
If the indiscriminate discharge of firearm or device shall result in the death of a victim, the penalty of reclusion temporal shall be imposed.
If the offender shall be a member of the national police, armed forces or any law enforcement agency authorized by law to bear arms, the penalty of prision mayor in its maximum period shall be imposed. If the indiscriminate discharge of firearm or device shall result in the death of a victim, the penalty of reclusion perpetua shall be imposed. The offender shall likewise be subject to summary dismissal proceedings and shall be perpetually disqualified from holding any public office.
In addition to the penalties imposed herein, any firearm license or permit issued in favor of the offender shall be summarily cancelled or revoked, and the offender shall be perpetually disqualified from being granted any firearm license or permit.
The bill likewise defines device as “anything which may not have been designed as a firearm but can be functionally adapted and used as a firearm.’’
During the meeting, the Philippine National Police (PNP) recommended to the panel to: amend just Article 254 of the Revised Penal Code because there are two laws that will be amended; and to delete of the phrase “shoot at another”.
Rep. Horacio Suansing Jr. (2nd District, Sultan Kudarat) chairman of the technical working group (TWG), which was tasked to draft the substitute bill, said the phrase “shoot at another” cannot be removed from Article 254 of the Revised Penal Code.
Suansing, a committee vice chairman, said the reason lies with the elements of the felony of unlawful discharge of firearms which are: that the offender discharges the firearm against or another person; and the offender has no intention to kill that person.
“Let’s note that the said felony is a crime against persons. Without the phrase “shoot at another”, the crime is no longer covered by Article 254,” said Sunasing.
Suansing said unlawful discharge of firearm when not directed to a person may be covered by Article 155, the provision on alarm and scandals.
Rep. Ruwel Peter Gonzaga (2nd District, Compostela Valley) sought clarification on the inclusion of the phrase “without lawful authority” in the proposed bill.
Acop for his part also said the phrase “without lawful authority” is one of the issues that he would like to be clarified. “What are situations contemplated by the phrase ‘without lawful authority’?
Suansing said “without lawful authority” is included for the graduation of penalties.
“In the the bill, there is a graduated higher penalty for law enforcement like the PNP, AFP and other law enforcement agencies. Precisely this is the reason why we included the phrase ‘without lawful authority’,” said Suansing.
Gonzaga proposed the deletion of the phrase as the the gradation of penalties is pointed out in the succeeding paragraphs.
Gonzaga said the phrase does not describe the person in authority but describes the act of shooting. CONGRESS / MCAG