Comelec: Jan 10 is start of election period, gun ban

MANILA, Philippines – Sunday, January 10, marks the beginning of the election period for the 2016 national and local polls. It is also the start of the nationwide gun ban and other election-related bans.

On Saturday evening, January 9, an hour before the election period began, Comelec chairman Andy Bautista and Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ricardo Marquez took part in a "checkpoint caravan" from Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City to C5 corner Kalayaan Avenue in Taguig City.

In an interview with reporters, Bautista asked for the public's patience and cooperation for secure, fair and orderly elections on May 9.

"Humihingi kami ng pasensya sa taumbayan, kumbaga, sa konting abala para siguruhin ang kanilang kabutihan at kapakanan," he said. (We ask for patience from the people in this minor inconvenience to ensure their safety and welfare.)

Bautista reiterated that during the entire election period, no person shall be allowed to bear, carry or transport firearms or deadly weapons outside of their residence or place of business, and in all public places. (READ: What are not allowed when election period starts January 10)

In addition, all permits to carry firearms will be suspended or put on hold, unless they are covered by a Certificate of Authority from the Comelec.

Exempted from the gun ban are the police and armed forces, other law enforcement officials, and select government officials.

Individuals and other groups may apply for a Certificate of Authority before the Comelec. Forms for these are available on the Comelec website.

Guidelines for the gun ban are provided in Comelec Resolution 10015.

PNP chief: Please bear with us

For his part, PNP chief Marquez said that Comelec checkpoints will be in place nationwide to observe the gun ban, adding that all police stations are expected to have at least one checkpoint in their area.

He then noted that the officers manning the checkpoints are instructed to do only a visual check on the motorists' vehicles.

In addition, checkpoints should be well-lit, properly identified by a Comelec-mandated signboard, and manned by uniformed personnel from the PNP or the Armed Forces of the Philippines. All of these guidelines are promulgated in Comelec Resolution 10029.

Marquez said this is part of their campaign against loose firearms, private armed groups, and bodyguards without Certificates of Authority during the election period.

"Humihingi po kami ng pang-unawa (We ask for your understanding), to please bear with us," Marquez said.

Those who will violate the gun ban will have cases filed against them, and it is up to the Comelec and the authorities to hand out the penalties, he added.

The election period will last until June 8, 2016.