Gun ban exemptions in May polls extend to barangay, SK polls—Comelec

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INQUIRER file photo

MANILA, Philippines—Those exempted from the gun ban during the May 13 midterm balloting will also be given the same privilege to carry their firearms during the barangay (village) and Sangguniang Kabataan (youth council) elections in October without having to renew their permits, according to the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

The Comelec en banc has issued a resolution extending the validity of the gun ban exemptions that were granted to politicians, private individuals and companies during the recently concluded balloting until after the barangay and SK elections.

The election body had set the ban on carrying firearms and employing security personnel among the public to begin on Sept. 28 to mark the start of the election period.

“Gun ban exemptions issued in connection with the May 13 national and local elections shall be recognized as valid for the purposes of the Oct. 28 synchronized barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections,” stated the Comelec resolution.

However, permits to hire security personnel issued during the May 13 balloting would not be automatically extended for the upcoming elections, it said.

“The approved applications for employment/availment/engagement of security personnel [or] agencies during the May 13 elections shall be subject to renewal for the purposes of the Oct. 28 synchronized barangay and SK elections,” it said.

But the procedure for reapplication will not be as rigorous as in the previous elections, according to lawyer Cristine Gilapay from the office of Commissioner Elias Yusoph, chairman of the committee on ban on firearms and security personnel.

“It won’t be as stringent if they already have the required documents, which is the same as the last elections,” said Gilapay at a media forum.

Commissioner Luie Guia explained that the Comelec decided to extend the validity of the gun ban exemptions issued to certain individuals or groups so that it could save money given the shoestring budget allotted for the forthcoming electoral exercise.

“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 the SK elections,” Guia told reporters in an interview.

“This will be a strategy we will use so that it will be inexpensive as we try to conserve our resources,” he added.

Under the gun ban resolution issued for the May 13 elections, anyone—with the exemption of at least 38 groups—is prohibited from carrying a gun during the election period.

Those excluded from the exemption included the President and several government offices, such as the Offices of the Vice President, the Secretary of Interior and Local Government, the National Defense, agents of the Bureau of Corrections, members of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

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