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Comelec: Gun ban starts Sept. 23

In a resolution, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) ordered the ban in line with the village and youth polls on Oct. 23. File

MANILA, Philippines — Starting Sept. 23, the carrying of firearms and other deadly weapons is prohibited nationwide, unless the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections are postponed.

In a resolution, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) ordered the ban in line with the village and youth polls on Oct. 23.

“No person shall bear, carry or transport firearms or deadly weapons outside his residence or place of business and in all public places, including any building, street, park and in private vehicles or public conveyances, even if he is licensed or authorized to possess or carry the same, unless authorized by the Commission,” the resolution read.

Having bodyguards or availing oneself of the services of security personnel is also prohibited unless authorized by the commission, Comelec said.

“Whether or not such security personnel or bodyguards are regular members or officers of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), other law enforcement agency of the government or from a private security service provider is prohibited,” the poll body added.         

Also considered prohibited are the transport and delivery of firearms, ammunition and explosives, including their parts or components.

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Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the committee on the ban on firearms and security personnel would start to accept applications for the issuance of authority to bear, carry or transport firearms or deadly weapons on Sept. 21.

And just to be fair to everyone, President Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo are not automatically exempted from the ban.

“This is basically to align them with the formality of the process, so that everyone is treated fairly. It’s no longer a question of (whether) they should be given an exemption… it is self evident… but again we are asking them to comply with the rules as a matter of fair treatment to everyone,” Jimenez said during a press conference.

Comelec Resolution 10197, promulgated on Thursday, authorized Duterte and Robredo to “bear, carry or transport firearms… during the election period or from Sept. 23 to Oct. 30” but they need to apply for exemption if they travel with more than two bodyguards.

Also exempted from the ban, provided they apply for exemption, are senators, congressmen, Cabinet secretaries, the Chief Justice and justices of the Supreme Court, justices of the Court of Appeals, Sandiganbayan and the Court of Tax Appeals, judges of the regional trial courts and municipal trial courts, ombudsman and deputy ombudsmen, chairmen and commissioners of the Civil Service Commission, Commission on Audit and Commission on Human Rights, among others. 

Violations of the new order are considered election offenses and would bear a penalty of one to six years imprisonment, removal of right to vote and disqualification to hold public office. 

Jimenez added that while there is a possibility that the upcoming polls will be postponed to next year, the ban would still be imposed pending a formal announcement of postponement. – With Sheila Crisostomo

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