Thursday, December 17, 2009

Comelec issues reso vs guns, goons on 2010 polls

12/17/2009 | 05:15 PM

Original Story:

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has issued its resolution banning candidates and private individuals from carrying firearms and hiring bodyguards during the election period from January 10 to June 9, 2010.

“That equals it for everyone," Comelec spokesman James Jimenez told reporters on Thursday.

The resolution, promulgated last Wednesday, states 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."

Aside from the regular firearms and deadly weapons, also covered by the ban are air guns and replications, as well as bladed instruments, hand grenades, and other explosives except for fireworks.

Exempted from the ban on carrying firearms are members of the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and other law enforcement agencies, according to the resolution.

Workers who use bladed instruments in the practice of their profession will also not be covered by the prohibition, it added.

The poll body also ordered the suspension of the issuance of licenses for firearms during the election period.

Bodyguards are OK

The poll body, however, allowed candidates to have security escorts during the election period “when circumstances warrant" it and only upon application.

The escorts can be from the PNP, the AFP, or the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Comelec said those interested in availing of the security detail must file a written application under oath indicating his full name, the public office he seeks to be elected, his residence, and the reasons or circumstances for the application. A filing fee of P5,000 will be collected from the applicant.

Candidates for congressional seats and local elective posts, as well as public officers or private individuals, may file their applications with the Regional Joint Security Control Desks while those seeking national elective positions shall file their applications with the Committee on the Ban on Firearms and Security Personnel (CBFSP).

The CBFSP will oversee the ban on firearms and security personnel. It will be chaired by poll body Commissioner Lucenito Tagle, with one one-star rank officer or equivalent, from the AFP and PNP, as members.

The same committee will refer the cases to the AFP and PNP, the agencies supposed to conduct a threat or security assessment. The two are expected submit their assessment to the CBFSP within five days.

If the application is granted, the CBFSP may authorize the PNP director general, AFP chief of staff, or NBI director to assign not more than two of its regular members as security personnel.

The Comelec, however, said that two more “protective agents" may still be assigned as close-in security “upon request and when the threat assessment warrants." “It’s a matter of how well they can justify it," added Jimenez.

But the poll body said that a security detail who is not wearing the authorized uniform but still opts to carry or transport firearms or other deadly weapons shall be considered unauthorized to carry such weapons and will be arrested.

Jimenez added that violation of the gun ban is an election offense, which entails a punishment of six months to one year imprisonment. - KBK, GMANews.TV

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