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City won’t impose gun ban as Palawan votes in the plebiscite

Puerto Princesa City is not keen to be included in the province-wide gun ban related to the March 13 plebiscite on RA 11259 dividing Palawan into three provinces.

In a special session Thursday, the City Council turned down the proposal of the provincial poll body to have the entire province covered by the gun ban as the campaign period began this week. The city is excluded from the plebiscite, being an administratively independent city.

The Commission on Elections-Palawan (COMELEC) earlier urged the city government to enact a local measure prohibiting the carrying of deadly weapons and drinking liquor within the city during the period of the plebiscite.

COMELEC-Palawan spokesperson Jommel Ordas said although the city is not a participant in the plebiscite, some activities will be held in the capital, including the transport of plebiscite paraphernalia and the provincial canvassing at the session hall of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

“Located sa Puerto Princesa City ang activities natin. Kaya lang ang Comelec ay hindi maisama ang Puerto Princesa City sa isang resolution dahil walang legal basis dahil hindi sila covered ng plebisito. Ang Comelec ay nagsabi sa city government, [so] baka pwede sila maglegislate ng measure para sa restrictions sa pagdadala ng baril at liquor ban,” Ordas earlier said.

In rejecting the proposal, the Council cited a possible conflict with existing national laws that grant individuals the right to carry firearms with necessary permits.

The Council, however, approved the liquor ban from March 12 to March 14 which falls a day before, during and after the plebiscite.

Councilor Victor Oliveros said implementing a gun ban during the plebiscite will not be viable because it may conflict with existing national laws.

“Yong mga documents, requirements, or licenses such as ‘yong LTOPF, registration, and permit to carry ay issued ng national government through the Philippine National Police. So it is pursuant to a national law. So there is a question now if ever we pass an ordinance, which would be observed? Would it be the ordinance, would it be the national law?” he said.

Oliveros added that more conflicts may arise between local law enforcement and non-Puerto Princesa residents who are unaware of the gun ban.

“Halimbawa, ‘yong mga manggaling ng Manila, hindi nila alam na may in-impose na gun ban, [pero] meron naman silang proper documents. Pag na-checkpoint sila dito ay valid ba ‘yon? Paano kung i-contest nila, sabihin nila, ‘Hindi, national law ito. We are issued LTOPF, registration, and permit to carry,’” he added.

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