Day 1 of election gun ban: Security guard nabbed
Bebot Sison Jr., Cecille Suerte Felipe (The Philippine Star) - January 10, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The election period kicked off yesterday and a gun ban is in place, with a security guard in Santiago City, Isabela the first to be arrested at a checkpoint.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ricardo Marquez led the ceremonial opening of checkpoints in Metro Manila hours before the gun ban took effect after midnight.

Security guard Romel Simbran, 37, of Purok 1, Barangay Mabini in Santiago City was nabbed with two caliber .38 revolvers at a checkpoint around 1:20 a.m. yesterday.

The PNP has activated the National Security Task Force Secure and Fair Elections (NSTF-SAFE) in cooperation with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to ensure orderly and honest elections in May.

“The Comelec-PNP Security and Contingency Planning Workshop aims to further identify procedures and resources and mitigate the impact of the identified risk factors during elections,” Marquez said.

“At the checkpoint in Barangay. Batal, the security guard was found in possession of two units of caliber .38 Armscor with 14 live bullets,” said Santiago City police chief Senior Superintendent Alex Santos.

The Comelec imposed the gun ban during election period from Jan. 10 to June 8 as part of the effort to ensure peaceful, orderly and honest presidential and local elections.

PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor said the gun ban took effect at 12:01 a.m. Sunday and PNP units were directed to set up checkpoints in strategic areas in the country.

Mayor said anyone who needs to carry a firearm should seek exemption from the Comelec.

Marquez said Deputy Director General Danilo Constantino, PNP deputy chief for operations, would serve as the commander of the NSTF-SAFE 2016 and closely coordinate with the military and the Comelec.

He said the task force is composed of provisional units from the national to the provincial level to capture high-profile targets linked to private armed groups.

Operations officers from the PNP National Operational Support Units, Directorate for Integrated Police Operations and police regional offices will be part of the NSTF SAFE.

Supt. Vincent Valdez, assistant police director of Isabela, said a man who was not immediately identified was arrested after the suspect yielded a fan knife at another checkpoint in Quezon town.

Police also arrested at another checkpoint Jon Nielsen Lota, 22, a messenger and waiter Reneil Joseph Perez, 22, after the suspects yielded a sachet of shabu and dried marijuana leaves in Santiago City.

Police also nabbed a drunk motorcycle rider about to run through a checkpoint in Pasay city yesterday.

Senior Inspector Roden Santos Tejuco, community precinct commander of Maricaban, identified the suspect as Rodulfo Guillen Jr., 32, of Limasawa Street, Magallanes village in Makati City.

Guillen claimed being a member of a group called Marshall, allegedly a force multiplier of the police.

Police said Guillen was driving a Yahama motorcycle when he tried to pass through the checkpoint along Aurora Boulevard in Maricaban.

Policemen manning their post near the checkpoint caught the suspect who faces charges of violation of Republic Act 4136 (Driving Under the Influence) and resisting arrest.

The Comelec and the Philippine National Police started enforcing the election gun ban yesterday, start of the election period for the May 2016 election.

Lawyer Dennis Ausan, Comelec regional election officer in Iloilo, led the authorities in setting up checkpoints in several areas in Iloilo City.

Ausan was accompanied by Chief Superintendent Bernardo Diaz, PNP Western Visayas chief, and Colonel Eric Uchida, commanding officer of the Philippine Army’s 301st Infantry Brigade.

While many motorists were surprised the gun ban was in efect, the public welcomed the checkpoints.

Ausan has reminded Comelec, police and military personnel that they must see to it that the civil, political, human and constitutional rights of motorists are upheld.

Diaz ordered the policemen that they should remain polite and courteous when inspecting motorists at checkpoints.

He said after the inspection, it would not hurt to thank the motorists for bearing with the inconvenience.

Uchida said military personnel would also be visible in rural and urban areas to augment the Comelec and PNP at the checkpoints. With Perseus Echeminada, Raymund Catindig, Jennifer Rendon

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