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03 June 2023

Gunman kills three in Philippines


A gunman killed at least three people and wounded several others on the outskirts of the Philippine capital on Friday, authorities said.

The rampage, which took place in a rundown residential area and a market about 40 kilometres (25 miles) south of Manila, ended when the gunman was shot dead, said district police chief Jaime Rollon.

"He was just shooting at anyone, bystanders, market vendors," Rollon told AFP.

Rollon said three people had been confirmed killed in Kawit town and at least two others wounded. Police were checking hospitals for other casualties, he added.

Provincial governor Juanito Remulla told ABS CBN television that some of the victims were children, including a two-year-old baby. However further details and confirmation from police were not immediately available.

Rollon identified the suspect as a local resident named Ronald Pae, but said his motive was not yet known.

He said Pae was also shot dead at the market, however it was not yet clear who fired the bullet that killed him.

Friday's shooting comes amid a debate over the country's lawless gun culture, which was sparked by the death of a seven-year-old girl who was shot in the head by celebratory gunfire on New Year's Eve.

Stephanie Ella and her father were watching a fireworks display outside their home in a Manila suburb on Monday when a bullet, fired by a person welcoming in the New Year, hit her.

The death triggered outrage and condemnation of poor law enforcement that allows hundreds of thousands of unregistered firearms to be on the streets.

"This incident should not be allowed to become just another statistic," Vice President Jejomar Binay said in response to Ella's death.

"We have enough laws to penalise but the problem has always been in the enforcement of laws."

Rollon said it was unclear how Pae had obtained his weapon, but said it would have been easy for him to get one.

"There are a lot of people with guns here. There are civilians with guns, even without official permits to carry. They can find a way," he said.

There were 1.2 million registered firearms in the Philippines as of last year, according to data from the police firearms and explosives office.

There were another roughly 600,000 unlicensed firearms in circulation across the Philippines, according to the office's records.