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MILF heeds Comelec gun ban

/ 06:08 PM January 22, 2013

COTABATO CITY, Philippines—Moro Islamic Liberation Front forces have been told not to carry firearms especially near town centers in deference to the gun ban the Commission on Elections has imposed, a senior rebel official said Tuesday.

“We already disseminated to our men the Central Committee’s direct order that they should adhere to the Comelec gun ban and refrain from carrying weapons outside their camps,” Von Al Haq, MILF spokesperson, told the Inquirer by phone.

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But Al Haq said the rebel group would be seeking exemption for their forces providing security to MILF officials and members of the peace panel. He said the security of their leaders and that of the panel could not be compromised.

Election Commissioner Elias Yusoph had earlier said that even if the talks were still ongoing, MILF forces were not exempted from the gun ban.

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He said even security forces assigned to the government peace panel had to secure exemptions so that they will not be arrested and charged for violation of election laws.

Yusoph said if the MILF wants some of its members exempted from the rule, it should also apply for a special permit, similar to those issued to gun owners who need to carry their firearms outside of their residences during the election period.

The election period started on Jan. 12 and will last until June 12.

Al Haq said MILF forces will carry guns only inside designated rebel camps to avoid conflict with the law.

“We assure the government that our men will strictly observe the implementation of the gun ban,” Al Haq said.

He did not say, however, if MILF guerrillas caught violating the directive will be penalized.

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TAGS: Comelec, Comelec gun ban, Commission on Elections, MILF, Moro Islamic Liberation Front
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