next week: Q and A with a documentary filmmaker!
A quick peek at Gun Manufacturing Pictures with excerpts from Carina Evangelista's text..
CAPITALIZING ON CONFLICT: Illegal Gun Manufacturing in the Philippines
Photographs by Nana Buxani
Text by Carina Evangelista
Guns are ubiquitous in the Philippines, described by the BBC News in 2000 as having ??a deeply-
rooted gun culture? where ??even McDonald's security guards have guns.? It was in 2000 that the
Philippine police chief cracked down on the gun industry that allowed unlimited access to permits and
guns, issued and even sold by corrupt police officials and soldiers. Down went ??official? gun sales and
up went the illegal gun market, with machine guns selling then at $375 and revolvers at $15 apiece.
Another BBC report three years later attributes 85% of gun-related crimes in the country to unlicensed
The black market has grown since, graduating to a cottage industry in provinces where villagers have
abandoned farming or fishing for the quicker, higher, and more reliable cash yielded by the
underground gun trade; and literally exploding into a tourist industry, with guns promoted as export
products at gun shows in shopping malls. According to an Associated Content news website, among
the high-powered replicas made by self-taught Filipino gunsmiths are the M-16, Ak-47, Uzi, and
Ingram submachine weapons, with unique modifications on the originals fashioned such as
??increasing firing rates and bullet capacities.?
'Underground' might be a misnomer when businessmen, politicians, military personnel, and civilians
comprise the consumers. Most of the illegal gun factories are in the archipelago's middle region of the
Visayas and the guns are shipped north to Luzon and south to Mindanao and then further out from the
ports to Japan and China, finding their way to the Yakuza and other criminal organizations.
In Mindanao, the glaring disproportion of the country's richest natural resources and highest rates of
poverty is compounded by some four decades of ethnic and political conflict amongst the Muslim,
Christian, and lumad (indigenous) groups. Shortly after 9/11, the United States engaged the
Philippines in the war on terror, linking the local Muslim rebel group Abu Sayyaf with Osama bin
Laden. Military operations in the region increased and remain unmitigated, ensuring gun shipments
from the US. This supply spike in firearms for the military and paramilitary groups has to be
approximated by civilian and rebel cadres who would source their weapons via illicit routes.
to be continued….
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