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Media, lawmen in danger during elections – Comelec

Rene U. Borromeo, AJ de la Torre (The Freeman) - March 8, 2013 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Danger is inevitable to all involved in the elections including law enforcers and the media.

This was admitted by Commission on Elections (Comelec) Regional Director Temie Lambino during a dialogue with the Cebu Citizen’s Press Council yesterday.

CCPC members raised concerns on the security of media practitioners covering the elections, especially those who are assigned in areas included in the watchlist.

Cherrie Ann Lim, managing editor of Sun Star Cebu, cited the incident in 2007 where one of their senior photographers was mauled by around 15 men in Bogo City after he took photos of a man who tried to snatch a ballot box from a member of the Board of Election Inspectors.

Lambino explained that the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines are tasked to handle security concerns.

But Lambino admitted that even the law enforcers are also facing danger during the elections.

He cited his experience in Pampanga where a group of 30 men overpowered two policemen during the election.

The men handcuffed the law enforcers and took away the ballot boxes they were guarding.

But he assured that they will deploy more law enforcers in areas that have high possibility of election-related incidents.

Yesterday, Comelec Provincial Supervisor Eddie Aba says the PNP and AFP have started to deploy men in four areas in the province after the PNP released its list of election watchlist of areas (EWAS).

Aba said the PNP and AFP usually deploy law enforcers months ahead of the actual election day to ensure that security measures are in place by May.

This move is also a preemptive measure.

“Mas maayo gyud maunhan nato na nagsugod pa kaysa uwahi na,” Aba said.

However, Aba said he does not see the possibility of having an area in Cebu under Comelec control since generally, elections in the province are peaceful.

The dialogue yesterday between Comelec and CCPC was to discuss media-related concerns for the upcoming election including the right of reply, advertisement and campaign regulations, and enforcement of fair election act.

  Meanwhile, Cebu City north district elections officer Marchel Sarno warned members of the media who are licensed gun holders that they are not exempted from the gun ban.

 Sarno issued the warning after he received reports that some media personalities ignored the implementation of the gun ban which took effect on Jan. 13 and will continue until June 12, 2013.

  Sarno advised the mediamen to refrain from bringing their guns even if they have licenses and permits to carry.

The Comelec’s Firearms and Security Committee in Manila does not issue personal gun ban exemptions unless it is extremely necessary.

Comelec Resolution No. 9561-A spared only up to 38 groups from the gun ban and these include the members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG), Supreme Court justices, policemen and military personnel if they are in proper uniform.

The gun ban resolution provides that no person shall bear, carry, or transport firearms or other deadly weapons in public places, and that no candidate for public office, including incumbent public officers seeking election to any public office, shall employ, avail himself of, or engage the services of security personnel or bodyguards.

Violators of the gun ban will face the penalty of imprisonment up to six years and they are not entitled to probation.  (FREEMAN)

BOARD OF ELECTION INSPECTORS BOGO CITY BUT LAMBINO CEBU CITIZEN CEBU CITY CHERRIE ANN LIM COMELEC COMELEC PROVINCIAL SUPERVISOR EDDIE ABA COMELEC RESOLUTION NO ELECTION FIREARMS AND SECURITY COMMITTEE
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