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Comelec extends validity of gun ban exemptions for Oct polls

President Benigno S. Aquino III presides over a command conference Wednesday, May 8, 2013 inside the Presidential Situation Room in Malacanang. The conference focuses on the ensuring that all systems are in place for the May 13 polls. Present in the conference are DILG Sec Mar Roxas, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa and heads of PNP and AFP. (MNS photo)

President Benigno S. Aquino III presides over a command conference Wednesday, May 8, 2013 inside the Presidential Situation Room in Malacanang. The conference focuses on the ensuring that all systems are in place for the May 13 polls. Present in the conference are DILG Sec Mar Roxas, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa and heads of PNP and AFP. (MNS photo)

MANILA  (Mabuhay) — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said those given gun ban exemptions during the May 13 midterm elections need not to apply anew for the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections in October.

The poll body, through Resolution No. 9735, extended the validity of the gun ban exemptions.

“Gun ban exemptions issued in connection with the May 13, 2013 National and Local Elections shall be recognized as valid for purposes of the Oct 28, 2013 Synchronized Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections,” the resolution said.

Comelec Commissioner Luie Guia explained that the extension would save them money as they have limited budget for the upcoming polls.

“The budget given to us is way below what we asked so we need to realign some resources so that we can augment the needs of the barangay and SK elections. This is the strategy we will use so that it will be inexpensive as we try to conserve our resources,” he said in an interview.

Under Comelec Resolution 9561, politicians and private individuals are prohibited to carry firearms except those identified by the Comelec.

Included in the list for the 2013 exemption are the Internal Security from the Offices of the Vice President; Secretary of Interior and Local Government; and National Defense; State, Regional, Provincial, and City Prosecutors of the Department of Justice; Internal Security Division of the Bureau of Treasury; and agents of the Bureau of Corrections.

Also included in the gun ban resolution are members of the Philippine National Police, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines; National Bureau of Investigation; Bureau of Jail Management and Penology;

Intelligence, Investigation and Customs Police Divisions of the Bureau of Customs; Philippine Ports Authority; Philippine Economic Zone Authority police forces; Government Guard Forces;

Investigation, and Intelligence Divisions of the Bureau of Immigration; Manila International Airport Authority Police Force; Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority Police Force; and Land Transportation Office Law Enforcement Service.

Also allowed to carry firearms are agents of the Philippine Coast Guard; Cebu Port Authority Police Force; Internal Security Operations Group of the Department of Justice Witness Protection Program;

Optical Media Board; Security Investigation and Transport Department, and Cash Department of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas; Offices of the Sergeant-At-Arms of the Senate and House of Representatives;

Inspection Service of the Philippine Postal Corporation; members of the Comelec; National Police Commission; Forest/Park Rangers of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources; Office of the Secretary Department of Foreign Affairs;

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency; Philippine Center for Transnational Crime; National Intelligence Coordinating Agency; Presidential Security Group; and Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Units.

Those who are exempted are members of privately-owned security or protective agencies; justices of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Sandiganbayan, Court of Tax Appeal, and judges of the regional trial courts, and municipal trial courts; and security personnel of accredited foreign diplomatic corps and establishments.

Meanwhile, Comelec Resolution 9735 stated that permits to employing security personnel during the May 13 elections shall not be extended for the forthcoming electoral exercise.

“The approved applications for employment/availment/engagement of security personnel/agencies during the May 13, 2013 National and Local Elections shall be subject to renewal for purposes of the October 28, 2013 Synchronized Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections,” said the resolution.

But according to Atty. Cristine Gilapay from the office of Comelec Commissioner Elias Yusoph, the application for renewal for availing of bodyguards will not be as strict as the last elections.

“If they want to employ security detail, they need to apply again. But the procedure will not be as stringent if they already have the required documents, which is the same as last elections,” he said.

Under the resolution, those who are given authority to employ security personnel or bodyguards during the May 13 polls are the President, Vice President, senators who are not running for re-election, Justices, Judges, Cabinet Secretaries, Chairman and Commissioners of the poll body, Chief of Staff of the AFP and AFP Major Service Commanders, and Director Generals and Senior Officers of the PNP.

The Comelec added that Yusoph remain as the chairman of the Committee on the Ban on Firearms and Security Personnel (CBFSP) for the October 28 polls.

The ban on carrying firearms and employing security personnel shall begin on Sept 28, the start of the Election Period.

Violation of the ban is punishable with imprisonment of one to six years, permanent disqualification to hold public office, and deprivation of the right to vote.(MNS)

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