BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Al Victor Espino was seven when he first learned how to shoot a gun.
It was a Walther PPK owned by his father, lawyer Alex Espino, then one of the premier political consultants whose clients trace all the way back to the prime city of Makati.
The Walther, chambered in .380 was the gun of choice of James Bond in the movies.
It is not known if Al also introduced himself as “Al, Al Espino” like the iconic movie spy.
“Self defense is a way of life,” Al, now one of the youngest city councilor in Bacolod City, tells DNX at the NIR Shooting Range, home to the NIR Gun Club of which he is a founding member.
Bacolod is the urban capital of more than half a million people, the economic and political center of the country’s Sugar Bowl, Negros Occidental.
Dressed in a green button-down shirt, untucked for the interview, Al was apparently in tactical mode.
He seats himself with a wall always at his back, looking sharp but not stiff, aware about his surroundings (situationally aware to security experts) but not coming off as paranoid.
Later on, we knew he had a gun, a Glock 17 9mm tucked in an appendix holster (that means the gun is tucked in front, close to your thingy) locally made by Patrick Villanueva who also made Al’s carry magazine pouch.
“We are living in very desperate times,” Al says as he pauses briefly to adjust his chair’s distance from the table, placing his weight on the balls of his feet like a cat about to spring up.
Some violent crimes have happened here recently, including the robbing and killing of a foreigner in a high-end residential subdivision.
The robbers were armed with assault rifles.
Al chairs the committee on police matters of the local council and while he believes the police here, led by a lawyer, Col. Henry Binas, is “equipped, competent and capable” in maintaining the peace, everyone should also look after their own safety.
Al says the pandemic and the quarantine measures imposed to contain its spread has obviously led to an economic downturn.
This slump is not a justification for crime, he says, but criminals have used it as a “justification for violent acts,” perhaps because “it is the only thing they know how to do.”
More on Monday