ILOILO City – A total 96 persons were arrested for violating the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) gun ban across Western Visayas and 182 firearms were confiscated since the prohibition started on Jan. 13.
Data from the Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) as of Feb. 6 showed that of the violators caught, three were security guards and one a government employee. The rest were private citizens.
On the other hand, the 182 seized firearms were a mix of long and short, homemade and original guns.
On top of the confiscations, various police units across Region 6 also managed to receive 255 firearms voluntarily surrendered by their owners for safekeeping while the licenses of these were being processed.
According to PRO-6 spokesperson Superintendent Joem Malong, more guns could be voluntarily surrendered in the days ahead, or seized in police operations.
“We have already informed 35,586 gun holders but only 6,563 responded positively. We have 29,023 gun owners out there still holding on to their firearms. We have to run after them,” said Malong.
The five-month gun ban ends on June 12. It 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.
The midterm elections are on May 13.
During the gun ban 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 are 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.
Erring uniformed personnel, on the other hand, faces dismissal from the service.
Pursuant to Comelec Resolution No. 10446, qualified persons and entities may seek exemption to the gun ban and other prohibited acts by applying for the appropriate Certificate of Authority (CA) at the Comelec through the Committee on the Ban on Firearms and Security Personnel (CBFSP).
Application forms and requirements for the issuance of a CA must be submitted to the CBFSP Office at the Comelec main office from Dec. 1, 2018 to May 29, 2019./PN