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Is there something wrong with the security inside the House of Representatives?

Congressmen themselves believe so, as they demanded a thorough review on the gun policy implemented in the Lower Congress, following outgoing Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Benjo Benaldo's supposed attempt to take his own life using a 9-mm pistol.

Re-elected Antipolo City Rep. Romeo Acop, who used to be a top police official before entering politics, sought to regulate the practice of carrying firearms in Batasan Pambansa Complex.

“I suggest that we revisit our regulations on carrying firearms. Let us find out if regulations are lacking or the rules are not implemented,” Acop said.

Acop laments that lawmakers' bodyguards, among others, do not particularly follow the circular that require service firearms to be surrendered to the Legislative Security Bureau (LSB).

He also admitted that while lawmakers are not frisked, the circular is also silent on banning them from carrying licensed firearms inside their offices.

“What is not allowed is carrying these (firearms) inside session hall,” Acop clarified, disclosing he has been leaving his bodyguards’ firearms inside his vehicle.

Laguna Representative-elect Benjie Agarao echoed Acop’s call, saying the House leadership must always ensure the safety of people inside the Batasan Complex.

“There should be stricter rules on gun control inside Batasan Complex. This is a very serious matter that we have to deal for the safety of everyone,” Agarao pointed out.

Meanwhile, incoming Tarlac Rep. Noel Villanueva thinks “firearms should not be allowed in the grounds of Congress and its offices” at all.

“Its members are supposedly honorable men and women and it is incumbent upon them to act accordingly. If ever there are threats on the life of any member of Congress, it is the duty of law enforcement agencies of government to provide the needed security even for the ordinary people,” Villanueva explained.

For his part, re-elected Citizens Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC) party-list Rep. Sherwin Tugna said the Lower Congress needs to address security issues as soon as possible.

President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III is set to deliver his fourth State of the Nation’s Address (SONA) inside Batasan Pamabansa Complex this coming July 22.

Benaldo was found alone and “drenched in his blood” in his private quarters inside his office when his staff heard a gunshot between 7 to 8 pm on June 27.

The lawmaker, who was caught in a public spat with his celebrity wife and model Daiana Menezes, sustained a gunshot wound to his chest, puncturing his lung but is now in a stable condition.

Earlier, Menezes’ fans aired concerns after the Brazilian beauty posted cryptic messages on her social media accounts, hinting of domestic violence and misunderstanding. But she eventually came to defend her husband, whom she married in Las Vagas earlier this year.

Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr. said Benaldo was “unhappy” with his loss in the congressional race for the first district of Cagayan de Oro last May.

Responding to his colleagues, Belmonte admitted that rules on carrying guns are hardly implemented in Batasan Complex.

"I think there's a policy against it (carrying firearms), but it's hard to implement in so far as members are concerned," Belmonte said.

But he assured they are doing everything they need to ensure security inside Batasan Pambansa, ordering for a thorough probe into the incident.

The speaker also demanded for a full report of the incident from House Sergeant-at-Arms General Nicasio Radovan, who is coordinating with Quezon City Police District (QCPD)

QCPD Director Senior Supt. Richard Albano meanwhile vowed to "check all angles.”

“Right now the incident continues to be thoroughly investigated and I hope that we all respect the privacy of the family at this time and avoid any other speculations,” Belmonte said.

“Benjo has not disclosed his reasons for what happened and may do so at the right time. What is important is that he is alive and in recovery which we all are grateful for,” he noted.
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