Election period begins: Comelec imposes checkpoints, gun ban

Election period begins: Comelec imposes checkpoints, gun ban
Joint military and police forces conduct Commission on Elections checkpoints at midnight Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022 along Imelda Avenue in Cainta, Rizal as preparation for the May national elections.
The STAR / Walter Bollozos

MANILA, Philippines — With the formal election period officially starting and law enforcers manning joint checkpoints, the Philippine National Police said it has begun enforcing the nationwide gun ban until June 8, 2022.

In a statement, Police Gen. Dionardo Carlos, PNP chief, said the permit to carry firearms outside of residence for civilians is suspended while law enforcers, including the police, are exempted as long as they bring their issued firearms while in uniform and in the performance of official duty.

“It should be understood that only on-duty police personnel, clearly identified as members of the PNP are allowed to carry their firearms. Any citizen may report to the PNP any police personnel abusing or violating this rule. We want to maintain discipline among our personnel,” Carlos said.

Generally, civilians are prohibited from bringing their firearms outside, the national police chief said, except for those who have secured their valid Certificate of Authority from the Commission on Elections Committee on Ban on Firearms and Security Concerns.

However, the authority granted to the PNP stipulated exemptions to the rule that may allow police personnel to carry or transport firearms without wearing the prescribed uniform only if:

  • they are conducting lawful intelligence or counter-intelligence gathering activities;
  • they are attending to official police emergencies

“May I also remind our police personnel that checkpoints are limited to visual search only. But if the need arises, especially under conditions authorized by law, the police may conduct further inspection,” Carlos said.

Any person with firearms will be asked to show a copy of a valid Certificate of Authority that exempts him/her from the gun ban. If they are not able to present one, the individual "can be a candidate for violating the Comelec Rules."

Persons violating the gun ban may be charged with illegal possession of firearms under Comelec Resolution No. 10741. It mandates the establishment of checkpoints and prohibition of bearing, carrying, and transporting firearms or other deadly weapons.

Comelec checkpoints signal start of 2022 election period

The PNP chief also said no major untoward incident has been recorded nationwide so far with the PNP receiving "full cooperation from the public" with the checkpoints manned by police, military, and Comelec personnel. 

“Everything went well as this was carefully planned together with the Commission on Elections. Poll officers and other representatives were at the checkpoints to supervise the first day of implementation and they were satisfied with the smooth flow of the inspection process,” Carlos said.

Under the Comelec resolution, these checkpoints must have properly labeled signage to notify the motorists of the checkpoint. It must bear the name of the Chief of police in the area. This should be positioned in a well-lit location that will not hamper the smooth flow of traffic and regular activities. 

Police officers must also wear the prescribed uniform while conducting checkpoint operations.

The public is reminded that they are not compelled to go out of their vehicles for physical check because the inspection is meant to proceed only through visual search. 

“They will not be required to open their glove compartment, trunk and bags...In case that there is defiance of suspected motorists—a reasonable ground to believe that a person has just committed or about to commit a crime—the PNP personnel will be made to usher further search," the statement also reads. 

Carlos admitted that the checkpoints may pose some inconvenience for the motorists but insisted that "this is a strategy to deter those who would attempt to carry and transport firearms while the gun ban is in effect nationwide." 

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