‘Cops deputized to enforce election laws’

Policemen stop motorists at a checkpoint on Lopez Jaena Street, La Paz, Iloilo City. The checkpoint is part of the security measures this election period. IAN PAUL CORDERO/PN

ILOILO City – Violators of election protocols beware.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has deputized the police to enforce poll rules and regulations, said Chief Superintendent John Bulalacao, regional police director.

“We are thus reminding candidates and their supporters to follow the Omnibus Election Code. Never violate them or be apprehended,” said Bulalacao.

The campaign period for local elective posts – governor, vice governor, members of the Provincial Board, mayor, vice mayor, members of the city council, and congressman – starts on March 29.

Bulalacao said the Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) will strictly enforce election laws and security measures.

“We are expecting candidates and their supporters to be responsible enough,” he stressed, to avoid disqualification complaints and election violation-related charges.

Vote buying is prohibited and so is the use of armed groups, added Bulalacao.

Paying the rebels with “permit to campaign fees” is also being discouraged, he stressed.

“We seek the cooperation of the candidates and their supporters, and the public in general. Report to us the violators,” said Bulalacao.

Meanwhile, the PRO-6 has so far recorded 258 arrests across the region for violating the election gun ban that started on Jan. 13. The arrests led to the seizure of 217 firearms.

The gun ban seeks to prevent unlawful elements such as private armed groups and gun-for-hire groups from intimidating, injuring or killing anyone during the election season.

During this period, all licenses to carry firearms outside of residences are suspended. Only members of the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, National Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement units will be issued written permits by the Comelec to carry firearms. But they have to be in their complete uniforms.

As provided for in Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code, violating the gun ban is an election offense.

Violators face imprisonment “not less than one year but not more than six years./PN

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