During the 2021 lockdown, one of the concerns of many citizens was the security threat from home invaders. A worst-case scenario concern then was that people will invade other people’s homes in search for food. Then as the war in Ukraine escalated, the importance of protecting our homes and our family became even more imperative.
We asked Gene Cariño, a fellow La Sallian and the founder and CEO of United Defense Manufacturing Corp. (UDMC), a Filipino company, recognized around the world as a manufacturer of quality firearms to find out how the current situation has affected the way people think about firearms.
“There was some increase in sales in the Philippines during the pandemic. In the US, there was a major spike in firearms sales, but here in the Philippines, with so many jobs having been lost, people started to spend their money on critical essentials only”.
“Firearms did not rank so high in that list. Also, the firearms manufacturing industry also suffered, as our supply chains were severely affected by the various lockdowns. This is not exactly a type of job where the office closes and you can start manufacturing gun parts at home, since these our manufacturing and storage of parts are strictly regulated. You also cannot transfer the big CNC machines that manufacture the parts. There was a noticeable increase in customers choosing more budget-friendly firearms, such as shotguns, but nowhere near the amount of panic buying that one can normally find in the United States of America”, Cariño explains.
United Defense Manufacturing Corp. (UDMC) with the exception of China and South Korea, is the only company in Asia-Pacific that can manufacture complete assemblies of assault rifles in the M4 (5.56 NATO) platform. UDMC also manufactures the bigger caliber rifle, the M110 (7.62 NATO).
Self Defense Culture
One of the scenes that people saw on TV on the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine was people wanting to arm themselves. Mr. Cariño sees that “the conflict in Ukraine created 3 effects in the self-defense culture. First, it made the general population, on both sides of the conflict, very conscious about defending their country or territory from armed attackers. This made them realize just how important firearms are to defending one’s life and property. This naturally created a mindset and need for an armed civilian population.
With that mindset in place, the second effect this conflict created was a renewed demand for firearms. Prior to the conflict, I understand that Ukraine had relatively strict gun laws. These laws were relaxed, and people began arming themselves. At the start of the conflict, the demand for firearms was so high, guns and ammunition flew off store shelves and owning a firearm became a necessity, especially for the territorial defense forces and civilians supporting the army. People didn’t wait for the government to arm them, those who stayed in the country who wanted to defend it, armed themselves out of their own money.
This brings me to the third effect, Cariño continues, which is pro-gun legislation. The week before the Russian operation, the Ukrainian government passed and enacted legislation that greatly improved gun laws in the country. No one opposed it and the anti-gun lobby was totally silent at this point. Gone were the strict firearms ownership requirements and, carrying firearms for self-protection, was allowed. At the start of the conflict, the Ukrainian government was even handing out AKM and AK74 rifles to anybody who could pick up a firearm and defend the country. While handing out firearms to unvetted people may not be a good idea under normal times, it only shows the desperation they were in at the start of the war with Russia.
Ultimately, these three effects all show us how important gun rights are, especially for national defense and building citizens’ mindset to defend their property and loved ones from criminals, and their country from invaders. Preparations do not happen overnight, so the sooner we make our gun laws more favorable to lawful gun owners, the more prepared we will be, when the time comes.
How difficult is it to own a firearm in the Philippines? And how much will it cost a potential gun owner?
Cariño explains, “Relatively, it is quite difficult. But it was much harder back in 2013 and 2014. It’s easier now, thanks to the work of the PNP-FEO in streamlining the process. Compared to many US States, such as Texas, and some other countries, like Pakistan, it is much more difficult to get a License to Own and Possess Firearms (LTOPF) here in the Philippines.
There are a lot of requirements, such as the National Police Clearance, drug testing, neuro-psychiatric evaluations, gun safety seminars, etc. The total cost depends on what type of license you want to get. As a general rule, you would want to prepare at least four thousand pesos or more for a Type-1 LTOPF and its requirements. This excludes firearm registration, which you will need, once you have your LTOPF and you purchase your firearm. This cost goes up, the higher the type of license you want to get. This cost also excludes the Permit-to-Carry Firearms-Outside-Residence (PTCFOR), which some people avail of, to allow them to carry their firearm concealed, inside their bags or vehicles. Despite the tough process, I strongly recommend getting an LTOPF and a firearm. It is worth your life and that of your loved ones”.
Green All The Way
Gene Cariño is a true La Sallite through and through. He started in La Salle Taft in 1960 for his preparatory and grade school years, then moved on and graduated high school at La Salle Green Hills in 1971. Then he returned to Taft and took up Industrial Engineering which did not result in a diploma in order to pursue a rather unconventional career path that would later make him into the success he is today.
Gene went into several fields and industries that provided their own unique challenges and victories. He started working at the age of 20 with Chemphil Group, and immediately moved up the ladder with his first managerial job at the age of 24 to become Personnel Manager of 3 subsidiary companies of the Chemphil Group.
After which, he worked in business development consulting for John Clements Consultants, Inc. where he was stationed in Jakarta for a year. Then started what could be one of the most memorable job experiences he has had in his life.
Moving on from consulting work in Jakarta, he found himself working as a Business Development Manager for the Zuellig Group in their pharmaceutical toll manufacturing company, Interphil Laboratories, Inc. He was later pirated by the First Pacific Group and was assigned to Metro Drug Corp. as Director of Distribution Services.
A year later, the Zuellig Group decided to get Gene back and appointed him Assistant to the President which exposed him well in controlling the multi-billion inventory of pharmaceutical stocks of Zullig Pharma nationwide. Later, Zuellig Pharma sent him to Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam to start their subsidiary of Zuellig Pharma Distribution there.
After turning over Zuellig Pharma Vietnam to his successor, he came back to the Philippines in 1994, to be appointed as the General Manager of Centramed S.A., the marketing and promotion arm of Zuellig for all in-house principals from Europe.
From then on, he shifted gears as he started to try his hand in third-party logistics services as he grew his company by leaps and bounds. He catered to blue-chip companies such as Toyota Motor Philippines Inc., San Miguel Corp., Del Monte Philippines Inc., Universal Robina Corp., and others in warehousing and distribution services, then later in manufacturing logistics services for Asahi Glass Philippines Inc.
However, Gene predicted then that the logistics services business model was only a transition into the integration of a global supply chain where multinational competitors would soon invade the Philippines.
“Let’s prepare for the future.” Gene had said, “Let’s do something more difficult than what we’re doing now. We have barriers worth entering where others cannot easily follow and compete with us.”
With that in mind, he had incorporated an arms manufacturing company in 2006 which would later become United Defense Manufacturing Corp. or “UDMC”. His business model was to pierce the hard shell of the Philippine military and national police where the procurement of arms is dominated by the likes of Colt, Remington, SIG Arms, and other Israeli brands. He knew then that the defense industry will be several times more difficult to grow but he set sail nonetheless as he knew that pistol manufacturing in the Philippines is crowded and pistol makers will have difficulty expanding into assault rifles as he assumed back in 2006.
But the road to success was long and bumpy because assault rifles manufacturing, owing to the import and export restrictions for both raw materials and finished products, is closely monitored and regulated by the Philippine government in particular and the United Nations in general. The colonial mentality which is averse to buying local products added to the many obstacles. But Gene thought that the more difficult it is, the fewer competitors there will be.
Proudly Filipino – Made
In 2010, Gene became more serious in growing his firearms company; starting with a co-development project for a gas-piston assault rifle with the Philippine Navy SEALs (NAVSOCOM). From here, he set out his company to undertake further R&D aimed at improving the design of conventional firearms which yielded him much fruit when they had developed an improved model of the M16 which they called the PVAR System which stands for the “Pneumatic Valve and Rod” system and was granted 3 Philippine patents for the design.
Seeing the huge potential in the arms industry, Gene got more financially invested in UDMC where he now spends almost all of his working time.
Currently, the latest firearm that UDMC has developed is the S9-DBB pistol-caliber carbine. It is an AR-style rifle that fires 9x19mm caliber rounds using Glock magazines. UDMC has found great success with this product in the civilian market.
UDMC’s 5th generation 5.56 NATO PVAR gas-piston assault rifle is another such example. We have made various improvements to the quad rail handguard, bolt carrier group, piston operating system and barrel profile, while in the process reducing its price by about 15%. This makes this rifle much more competitive in performance, reliability, ease-of-use, and cost-effectiveness, compared to similar 5.56 NATO rifle offerings from our international competitors.
UDMC’s flagship product is the 7.62 NATO S7 precision rifle in semi-automatic that has enjoyed great success due to its capability as a sniper rifle that if used with the M118LR ammunition, can have a better ballistics coefficient reaching out to 1 kilometer in range. And if equipped with a day scope and a thermal imaging scope, it makes this weapon deadly even in a moonless and starless night.
Gene adds, “Filipino arms manufacturers and gunsmiths are renowned across the world and we aim to deliver on that reputation and promise. It is something we Filipinos can be truly proud of.
Gene encourages people to protect their homes. “Having the ability to defend yourself, your loved ones, and property gives you peace of mind and teaches you many valuable things. It gives you a mindset of personal responsibility, safety, security and defense preparedness. In addition to these reasons, I can hope that our patriotism matches those of the Ukrainians and for us Filipinos to actively support the revival of the Reserved Officers Training Course (ROTC) at the collegiate level which must teach unconventional warfare. These are dangerous times and the greatest threat, aside from unscrupulous politicians and their relatives who think and feel that they are a privileged few, are the foreign invaders of our land.”