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Understanding ‘total gun ban’ rule for 2010 polls

December 19, 2009

MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will implement total gun ban for the May 2010 elections, prohibiting private individuals from carrying firearms and allowing only two security personnel for each candidate, an official said Friday.

Comelec Resolution 8714 promulgated on December 16 states stricter gun ban provisions such that, “No person shall bear, carry or transport licensed or unregistered firearms or deadly weapons in public except for the regular plantilla of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), other government law enforcement units and private security agencies duly authorized by the PNP and hired security personnel of candidates who were enlisted with Comelec.”

“Unlike in the 2007 elections, private individuals cannot seek exemption from the gun ban even though they have licensed firearms because we are implementing total gun ban for the 2010 elections. For the part of candidates, they are entitled to hire only two security personnel from the police or PNP registered agencies. We are still discussing if candidates for president and vice president can be allowed to add extra security personnel,” Comelec commissioner Rene Sarmiento said.

Sarmiento said these “stricter measures” aims to “lessen violence and ensure peace and order” during the election period from January 10 to June 9, 2010.

Any candidate to public office and private individual who have threats to life and security may apply on or before December 29 for security personnel and will be assigned regular members of the PNP, AFP, National Bureau of Investigation and as augmentation, duly licensed protective agents to provide security during the election period.

Applications for security personnel and certification to carry firearms while on duty shall be submitted to the Regional Joint Security Control Desks for local positions and Committee on the Ban of Firearms and Security Personnel (CBFSP) for national positions.

CBFSP, which was created for the 2010 elections, replaces the defunct Comelec regional committees on gun ban that used to issue gun ban exemptions, said Sarmiento.

CBSFP would refer the applications to AFP or PNP, which would recommend whether to grant or not the application for security personnel after conducting a threat assessment, said Sarmiento.

If the application is granted, the PNP director general, AFP chief of staff and NBI director will assign two of its regular members as security personnel. CBSFP may authorize two additional protective agents as close in security if the situation warrants, said Sarmiento.

Heads of police and security agencies should submit to the CBFSP a photo of each of their personnel, description of firearms and authorized office uniform to help identify if the person is on duty or not, he added.

“Even if they are included in the certified list of personnel to carry firearms, persons or police officers not wearing the authorized uniforms for security duties shall be presumed unauthorized to carry guns and can be arrested,” explained the poll official.

By January, CBFSP will issue a certified list of names of personnel from AFP, PNP and other security agencies that will be authorized to bear, carry or transport firearms as designated security personnel for candidates or private individuals.

The CBSFP will submit starting February 2010 a monthly report monitoring the implementation of the gun ban together with the current status of enforcement—the number of confiscated firearms both licensed or not and the persons involved; and the peace and order situation in the country including insurgency, existence of private armies and intensity of political rivalries that might affect the conduct of elections.

Meanwhile, PNP is directed to suspend the issuance of firearm licenses during the election period.

For the transport of firearms, persons engaged in manufacture and sales can seek authorization, with prior notice to Comlec, with the PNP director provided that the firearms and their spare parts are immediately transported to the firearms and explosives division of PNP.

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