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Danao's ‘paltik’ gun-making industry continues to thrive

The manufacture of "paltik" or home-made firearms was still a booming industry in Danao City, Cebu, according to a Friday report on  GMA TV program "State of the Nation with Jessica Soho".

Some of the most frequently used gun types wielded by drug criminals were made in Danao.

A 2017  Philippine National Police (PNP) report found that 37.1 percent of weapons confiscated during anti-drug operations were .38 caliber pistols, and these kinds of guns were sold in Danao City for as low as P3,500.

According to the local police force, Danao's illegal gun industry was thriving despite attempts at a crackdown.

Just this year, Danao police have arrested at least 33 suspects under Republic Act (RA) No. 10591 or the "Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act."

Danao's police commander Chief Inspector Cesar Misola said gun runners and manufacturers in the city were helping each other evade authorities.

"May mga kontak na 'yan. Kasi ang mga ilegal, kokontak na rin sa kapwa-ilegal nila eh. Ayun nga nagkaroon ng transaksyon, makakabili sila," Misola explained.

A local gunsmith identified only as "Efren" said they could make a gun out of scrap metal in 15 days.

A gunrunner would pay Efren as much as P8,000 for his handiwork.

Efren said he did not know the identities of his customers and it had crossed his mind that criminals could be buying his weapons.

However, this way the only he knew how to make a living. "Kasi 'yun ang nakasanayan sa aming trabaho dito," he explained.

Plea to Duterte

Winnie Banzon, a veteran gun designer who introduces himself as a "frustrated industrialist", had written to President Rodrigo Duterte and asked him to help the Danao's firearms industry.

The Presidential Management Staff had reportedly referred his request to the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Science and Technology.

In 1997, Banzon had advocated for the establishment of a gunsmith cooperative in Danao, but this did not get very far as gun manufacturing had remained  illegal.

The Danao local government was hoping to change this, and given President Duterte's roots in Danao (his father's family was from Danao and the current mayor was his cousin), they expected that he could make this happen.

Furthermore, according to Danao City Councillor Jojo Roble, legalizing the industry would bring in regulators, thus robbing criminals of a source of weapons.

"Magdo-domino effect eh. 'Pag tinumba mo 'yung illegal gun-making, matutumba rin 'yung bumibili, matutumba na lahat 'yun," Roble explained. — Margaret Claire Layug/DVM, GMA News