ILOILO City – As of June 4, the number of persons arrested across Western Visayas for violating the election gun ban reached 520, data from the Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) showed.
The five-month gun ban started on Jan. 13 and would end on June 12, also the end of the election period.
Various police units also netted 903 firearms.
Of the 520 people arrested, 500 were civilians, nine were security guards, four were government officials, two were members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, one was a member of the Philippine National Police, three from threat groups, and one was a barangay official.
Of the 903 firearms the police netted, 269 were homemade, 273 were original, and 361 were voluntarily turned over by their owners for police safekeeping.
There were also 160 bladed weapons recovered, 40 gun replicas, 32 grenades, 10 improvised explosives, 3,386 bullets.
According to PRO-6 spokesperson Police Lieutenant Colonel Joem Malong, the arrested persons were subsequently charged with violating the gun ban, an election offense.
“We hope there would be no more violators,” she said.
But Malong stressed the PRO-6’s campaign against lose firearms would continue even if the gun ban has already ended.
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.
During the 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 can be issued written permits by the Commission on Elections (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.
Unless properly covered by a CA, any permit to carry firearm/s outside one’s residence or place of business will be ineffective and without force and effect during the election period./PN