Gun ban starts January 9

File Photo from Iloilo City PSC FB

By Jennifer P. Rendon

Effective Jan 9, 2022, carrying and transporting of firearms and other deadly weapons is prohibited as the election period for the May 9 national election starts.

Lieutenant Colonel Arnel Solis, Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) spokesperson, said the election period will run until June 8, 2022.

The gun ban is contained in Commission in Elections (Comelec) Resolution No. 10728 promulgated on Nov. 10, 2021.

During the said period, “no person shall bear, carry or transport firearms or other deadly weapons outside his/her residence or place of business, and in all public places, including any building, street, park, private vehicle or public conveyance, even if he/she is licensed or authorized to carry the same, unless authorized in writing by the Commission, through the Committee on the Ban on Firearms and Security Concerns (CBFSC).”

The CBFSC, which shall be responsible for the implementation of the gun ban, has the sole power to issue Certificates of Authority.

The committee is composed of one member of the Comelec en banc as chairperson and one senior officer each from the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines and not lower than officer grade 07, brigadier general and police brigadier general, respectively, as members.

Further, “no person shall employ, avail him/herself or engage the services of security personnel or bodyguards, whether or not such security personnel or bodyguards are regular members or officers of the PNP, AFP, other law enforcement agencies of the government or from a private security service provider, unless authorized by the Commission.

Under the resolution, Solis noted that any permit to carry firearm outside residence, letter order, or mission order issued by the Chief PNP, the Chief of Staff of the AFP, the Commanding General or Flag Officer in Command of the Different Branches of the AFP and their sub-units, or their duty authorized representatives, or any other head or duly authorized official of government law enforcement agency are hereby declared suspended, ineffective, and without force and effect during the election period, unless covered by a certificate of authority duly issued by the CBFSC.”

However, those who were able to secure a certificate of authority (CA) issued by the CBFSC are deemed exempted from the ban.

With the gun ban now enforced, only regular members of the Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and other law enforcement agencies of the Government who are duly deputized in writing by the Commission for election duty may be authorized to carry and possess firearms during the election period.

However, the COMELEC resolution also stated that, “when in the possession of firearms, the deputized law enforcement officer must be: (a) in full uniform showing clearly and legibly his name, rank and serial number, which shall remain visible at all times, and (b) in the actual performance of his election duty in the specific area designated by the Commission.”

The certificate may be issued also to the following: regular officers, members and agents of the Office of the President, Presidential Security Groups, Office of the Vice-President, Comelec chairman, commissioners, and officials of the commission, Regional and provincial election heads and election officers, and Comelec organic security officers.

Those who could also be given exemptions are individuals deemed as “high-risk” public officials and personnel such as the vice president of the Philippines, Senate president and senators, speaker and members of the House of Representatives, chief justice and associate justices of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Sandiganbayan, Court of Tax Appeals, judges of the regional and municipal/metropolitan/circuit trial courts, and ombudsman and deputy ombudsmen.

Solis said there are other individuals in the judiciary and government that may be included in the exemptions.

Meanwhile, Solis said they have already sent a letter to provincial and city police offices to determine if there are police personnel who are assigned as escorts to politicians and politicians.

“But the report was that there was none,” he said.

Meanwhile, for the purpose of effectively implementing the firearms ban, Comelec issued Resolution No. 10741 promulgated on Dec. 16, which mandates the establishment of checkpoints in all cities and municipalities.

Under the rule, there shall be at least one Comelec checkpoint in each city/municipality.

Solis said they have already reminded field units manning the checkpoints that they should follow the guidelines like ensuring that a Comelec checkpoint must be led by a regular rank of lieutenant.

Further, “adequate number of AFP and PNP shall man the checkpoints and they must be in complete service uniform with the name plates and other identification tags clearly visible and readable.”

It is also important to note that they must not be under the influence of liquor and/or dangerous drugs.

A Comelec checkpoint must also be “well-lighted, properly identified and manned with uniform personnel.”

There shall also be a signboard measuring three feet by four feet (3’x4′) to clearly identify the place as a checkpoint from a reasonable distance.