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Bullet amulets not illegal, says Recto

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto yesterday asked government authorities to explain to the public that carrying amulets fashioned out of bullets or displaying such amulets as ornaments is not illegal.

“Nothing in the firearms law prohibits such Filipino cultural practice. Whether as an anting-anting (amulet) or a fashion accessory, an empty bullet casing crafted as such is a perfectly legal item,” Recto said.

Recto issued this statement as the controversial arrest at airports of travellers, including overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), with a bullet or bullets in their bags refuses to die down. There are calls from the citizenry for the resignation of ranking transport and airport officials over this affair.

“The general rule is that a decommissioned bullet that is used as an anting-anting is a perfectly legal accessory,’’ he said, adding that the amulet wearer would have to contend with the laws of his country of destination which may have laws declaring them as illegal.

“Maraming lugar sa Pilipinas, merong nagsusuot nito. Kasi merong paniniwala na pangkontra ito sa mga masasamang ispirito. Kaya kailangan ’di malaman ng mga nagsusuot nito ang kanilang karapatan na hindi sila dapat hulihin,’’ he said.

Recto said the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of RA 10591, or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act of 2013 defines “ammunition” as a “complete unfired unit” consisting of a “bullet, gunpowder, cartridge case and primer.”

“If only the cartridge remains and this has been repurposed into an amulet or a fashion bling, then it is no longer a bullet so it is not illegal to wear it. You can only be charged by your friends of being baduy, but you can’t be charged in court,” Recto said.

“If, for example, two of four components are absent. Kung wala ng gunpower at primer, kahit buo pa tingnan sa labas, lalo na kung binutasan pa kasi ginawang key chain, the ammunition, obviously, has been rendered useless,” he said.

Recto said RA 10591 only punishes the illegal possession of complete ammunition or a live bullet.

He said this is reiterated in the IRR of RA 10591 in which the “four components” of complete ammunition are further defined.

The IRR states that ammunition “must have a primer”, also called an “igniter”, which refers to a device used for the purpose of setting fire to ignite the gun powder.

It must also have gunpowder, which “refers to any explosive powder used to propel projectiles intended for firearms”.
The third component is the cartridge case, which the IRR defines as “a container, usually metal and cylindrical in shape, to be loaded with a primer, powder charge and bullet.”

Completing the ammunition is the bullet, “or the projectile propelled through the barrel of a firearm by means of the expansive force of gases coming from burning gunpowder.” (MARIO B. CASAYURAN)