Sunday, January 14, 2007

May 14, 2007, election period starts today

The prohibitions on the carrying of firearms and other deadly weapons, suspension of local elective officials, and transfer of officers and employees in the civil service take effect today, the start of the five-month election period for the May 14 regular election of national and local officials, which ends on June 13.

Also prohibited starting today are the alteration of territory of a precinct or establishment of a new precinct, organization or maintenance of reaction forces, strike forces, or other similar forces, and use of security personnel or bodyguards of candidates, whether or not such bodyguards are regular members of the Armed Forces or the Philippine National Police or other law enforcement agencies.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec), led by Chairman Benjamin S. Abalos Sr. and Commissioners Resurreccion Z. Borra, Florentino A. Tuason Jr., Romeo A. Brawner, Rene V. Sarmiento, and Nicodemo T. Ferrer, said that during the election period, all gun-carrying privileges issued by the PNP are suspended and only the Comelec, through its Committee on Firearms and Security personnel, is the sole authority that can issue permits to carry firearms outside of residence.

Head of the Comelec Gun Ban Committee is Commissioner Nicodemo T. Ferrer.

Designated as Committee Vice Chairman is Law Department Director Alioden D. Dalaig, and as members two representatives each from the AFP and PNP. The committee is assigned to evaluate all applications for exemption from the gun ban and determine whether or not an applicant may be authorized to carry, bear, or transport firearms or to employ security personnel within the exemption as provided in Comelec en banc Resolution No. 7764A.

Ferrer said exemptions from the gun ban will be granted to officers or members of the AFP, PNP, or any law enforcement agencies constituting the normal security personnel complement of the President, Vice President, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chief Justice, Comelec commissioners, other Cabinet members, and senior military and police officials.

The committee said members of the military and police forces, or any other law enforcement agencies are prohibited from carrying their firearms outside their barracks, garrison, camps, and offices, so are candidates for public office, including incumbent officials seeking election to any public office or any person, their security personnel, or bodyguards.

For purposes of implementing the ban, the Comelec gun ban committee said public places include building, street, park, private vehicle or public conveyance, even if licensed to possess or carry the same, unless authorized in writing by the Commission.

The Comelec also created a regional committee on firearms and security personnel composed of a regional election director as chairman, the assistant regional director as vice chairman, and the PNP regional director as member.

The regional committee will act only on requests for exemption of guards of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, who will escort prisoners pursuant to a lawful order.

The decisions of the Gun Ban Committee and those of the regional committee are appealable to the Comelec en banc, whose decision is final. By E. T. SUAREZ - Manila Bulletin

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