MANILA, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Members of the Philippine Senate should be among those people allowed to carry guns in public, Vicente Sotto III, the chamber's majority leader, said Thursday.
Sotto commented during a hearing on a bill that that would establish a comprehensive law on firearms, light weapons and ammunition, the Philippine Daily Inquirer.net reported.
The bill lists13 professions that would be allowed to carry licensed firearms outside their home. Attorneys, doctors and religious figures are on the list, but politicians, judges and prosecutors are not.
Sotto said he was the "favorite whipping boy" of drug traffickers, but did not use a bodyguard.
"I don't want the Filipino people paying for my bodyguard," he said.
Ferdinand Parayno, secretary general of the National Prosecutor League of the Philippines, was the first to suggest at the hearing that senators be allowed to carry weapons.
"The police have their priorities. If all prosecutors would request protection from the Philippine National Police, how would they be able to perform their other duties?" Parayno asked.
The secretary-general of the Gunless Society, Norman Cabrera, said the categories of people allowed to carry guns outside their homes should be limited to those "directly and primarily engaged in police, military or security services."
He said his organization did not want a gun ban, "but simply stricter gun control."
Jethro Tan Dionisio, president of the Association of Firearms and Ammunition Dealers of the Philippines, testified the bill should create stiffer penalties to deal with the proliferation of illegal weapons.