SC rejects petition vs Comelec gun ban
The Supreme Court has rejected a petition by private security companies seeking exemption from the Commission on Election (Comelec) gun ban, saying the poll body had been armed by the 1987 Constitution and other laws to impose the restriction on everyone.
In a decision dated Oct. 3, the 15-member tribunal unanimously affirmed the Comelec’s authority in issuing Resolution No. 10015, which prohibited all individuals from carrying firearms in public places without its permission during the 150-day period surrounding the May 2016 balloting.
The Comelec’s Nov. 13, 2015 resolution also temporarily barred the hiring of private security escorts during that time.
The high court jettisoned for lack of merit the petition for certiorari filed by members of the Philippine Association of Detective and Protective Agency Operators (Padpao) in Central Visayas, which insisted that private security agencies should be exempted from the gun ban.
“The power of the Comelec to promulgate rules and regulations to enforce and implement elections laws is enshrined in the Constitution,” the tribunal said.
“(T)he court (has) recognized the wide latitude given to the Comelec by the Constitution and by law to enforce and implement election laws to fulfill its mandate of ensuring free, orderly, peaceful and honest elections,” it said in a decision written by Associate Justice Alfredo Banjamin Caguioa.
In rejecting the claim of the private security agencies, the court said the election body “did not exceed its rule-making authority” in issuing its gun ban resolution.
The court also said the Comelec could collect P50 in filing fee for a gun ban exemption permit for each private security personnel, saying such an amount “can hardly be said to be exorbitant.”
In challenging the Comelec’s authority, Padpao argued that Republic Act No. 5487, or the Private Security Agency Law, gave them the right to own, transport and carry firearms as part of their business practice.
It said Section 17 of the law granted the power to regulate private security personnel only to the Philippine National Police and not the Comelec.
In addition, they said the Comelec resolution violated the constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the laws and of the “nonimpairment of contracts.”
The tribunal, however, ruled that Section 6, Article IX-A of the 30-year-old Charter provided that “each commission en banc may promulgate its own rules concerning pleadings and practice before it or before any of its offices.”