ILOILO City – The election period has ended, and so has the election gun ban.
A total of 529 violators were arrested from Jan. 13 to June 12 across Western Visayas and 392 firearms were seized, data from the Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) showed.
Of the 529 violators, 508 were civilians; the others were security guards (10), members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (two), member of the Philippine National Police (one), elected government officials (four), member of a law enforcement agency (one), and criminal gang members (three).
“The violators were mostly arrested at checkpoints, through the quick response of the police to requests for assistance, through raids, and serving of arrest warrants,” said PRO-6 spokesperson Police Lieutenant Colonel Joem Malong.
Aside from guns, policemen across the region also seized 191 bladed weapons, 37 hand grenades, 16 improvised explosive devices and 3,713 bullets.
All the seized items were now in the custody of the PRO-6 while the violators were filed with appropriate charges in various courts, said Malong.
The gun ban sought to prevent unlawful elements such as private armed groups and gun-for-hire groups from intimidating, injuring or killing anyone during the election season.
But Malong stressed the PRO-6’s campaign against lose firearms would continue even if the gun ban has already ended.
During the gun ban period, all licenses to carry firearms outside of residences were suspended. Only members of the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, National Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement units were issued written permits by the Commission on Elections to carry firearms. But they had 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.
On election day itself, May 13, the PRO-6 recorded zero poll-related incidents. Police Brigadier General John Bulalacao, PRO-6 director, attributed this to early security preparations, the cooperation of all concerned government agencies, and the support of the community.
Meanwhile, Major General Dinoh Dolina, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, said he was proud of the troops who rendered election duties.
He said the “isolated incidents” of vote-buying, gun ban and liquor ban violations “did not affect the election process and its result in Western Visayas.”/PN