Comelec relaxes gun ban policy for undercover cops

SEEING full logic in a letter-explanation from Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar D. Albayalde, the Commission on Elections en banc has amended the rules and regulations when it comes to members of the police force who need to carry firearms while conducting undercover missions in civilian clothes during the duration of the nationwide gun ban which will last until this coming June 12, the Journal Group learned yesterday.

The previous Comelec Resolution No. 10446 or the Rules and Regulations on the ban on bearing, carrying or transporting of firearms or other deadly weapons; and or the employment, availment or engagement of the services of security personnel or bodyguards during the election period of the May 13 national and local elections  issued on November 1 last year was very strict when it comes to carrying firearms on the streets.

Comelec Resolution No. 10446 stated that only regular officers, members and agents of law enforcement agencies who are actually performing law enforcement and/or security functions are exempted from the gun ban provided they meet the following conditions: In the regular plantilla of the  agencies and are receiving regular compensation for the services rendered in said agencies; In the agency-prescribed uniform showing clearly and legibly his name, rank and serial number or, in case rank and serial number are not applicable, displaying prominently the agency-issued identification card showing clearly his name and position which shall remain visible at all times; and Duly authorized to possess firearm and to carry the same outside of residence by virtue of a valid permit to carry or a valid mission order or letter  order; and in the actual performance of official law enforcement and/or security duty, or are going to or returning from his dwelling/barracks or official station.

Law enforcement agents are also only allowed to bear, carry or transport a maximum of two firearms.

However, Gen. Albayalde wrote a letter to the Comelec explaining the need for police officers and men assigned in special PNP units like the different PNP Regional, Provincial, City and Municipal Drug Enforcement Units, Intelligence Divisions and Warrant Sections to carry firearms while in covert missions which requires them to wear civilian clothes.

Chief Superintendent Rey Lyndon T. Lawas, the Deputy Director of the PNP Directorate for Operations and the official PNP representative to the Comelec Committee on the Ban on Firearms and Security Personnel, fully explained the PNP position on the matter during a series of talks with the Comelec Legal Department prompting the poll body to make some amendments to their Resolution No. 10446.

“I explained to the Comelec the position of the PNP leadership under Gen. Albayalde that there are real cases which require policemen in civilian clothes to carry firearms. They include those assigned to undercover operations to arrest wanted kidnappers, drug traffickers, robbers and rogues in uniform,” he told the Journal Group.

The official said  back-up operatives of Drug Enforcement Units need to carry firearms to defend their poseur-colleague from an armed drug dealer in the event the latter starts firing after sensing the entrapment operation.