The gun ban will take effect from January 9 until June 8 next year, the election period for the May 9 polls, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) said.
In Resolution No. 10728, the poll body said the bearing, carrying and transporting of firearms and other deadly weapons are prohibited during the period.
“No person shall employ, avail him/herself or engage the services of security personnel or bodyguards, whether or not such security personnel or bodyguards are regular members or officers of the PNP, AFP, other law enforcement agencies of the government or from a private security service provider unless authorized by the Commission, through the Committee on the Ban on Firearms and Security Concerns (CBFSC),” the resolution read.
The committee is composed of one COMELEC commissioner as chairperson and one senior officer each from the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines and not lower than officer grade 07, brigadier general and police brigadier general, respectively, as members.
Those who were able to secure a certificate of authority (CA) issued by the CBFSC are exempted from the ban.
The certificate may be issued to the following: regular officers, members and agents of the Office of the President, Presidential Security Groups, Office of the Vice-President, COMELEC chairman, commissioners, and officials of the commission, Regional and provincial election heads and election officers, COMELEC organic security officers, AFP, PNP, BFP, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and Philippine Coast Guard officers and personnel.
“High-risk” public officials and personnel such as the vice president of the Philippines, Senate president and senators, speaker and members of the House of Representatives, chief justice and associate justices of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Sandiganbayan, Court of Tax Appeals, judges of the regional and municipal/metropolitan/circuit trial courts, ombudsman and deputy ombudsmen may be exempted from the ban.
Also included are investigators and prosecutors of the Office of the Ombudsman, Cabinet secretaries, chairperson and commissioners of the Commission on Audit and Civil Service Commission, Secretary, undersecretaries, assistant secretaries, prosecutor general, and prosecutors of the DOJ, solicitor-general and chief public attorney.
Other qualified individuals who, by the nature of their official duties, profession, business or occupation, or who are witnesses under the DOJ’s witness protection program or other similar programs of the government, and former public officials, may be classified as “high risk” by the CBFSC.
The CAs will be valid until June 8 next year unless revoked.
Comelec said all existing authorities granting security personnel and bodyguards are deemed revoked during the election period.
Recall of police escorts
Philippine National Police chief Lt. Gen. Dionardo Carlos said the PNP would start to recall police escorts assigned to politicians and private individuals gunning for a seat in next year’s polls, possibly in December or early January next year.
He ordered the Police Security Protection Group and chiefs of police to identify police officers who have relatives running in next year’s elections, especially at the local level and reminded personnel to remain non-partisan.
The PNP chief could not immediately give figures as to the number of policemen currently assigned to politicians.
Carlos also said the PNP is adopting measures to ensure that policemen assigned to politicians will remain non-partisan, neutral, and professional during the coming elections.
To politicians who are not qualified to be given bodyguards, Carlos said they may avail of the service of private security agencies.
Candidates whose applications were rejected by the poll body may still apply for security which will undergo a strict vetting process. (with reports Christopher Lloyd T. Caliwan/PNA)