THE number of violators of the nationwide gun ban arrested by agents of the Philippine National Police since last January 13 is now nearing 2,000, majority of them civilians found with firearms and other deadly weapons when accosted in checkpoints as PNP chief, Director General Oscar D. Albayalde, ordered his men to strictly enforce the prohibition of the Omnibus Election Code during the election period ‘without fear or favor.’
The PNP chief has ordered all his 17 regional directors to fully implement the set of rules imposed by the Comelec specifically on prescribed limits of campaign activities and other illegal acts defined under the law.
According to PNP spokesman, Senior Superintendent Bernard M. Banac, from January 13 to last Friday alone, over 1,750 gun ban violators including 20 policemen, three members of the Armed Forces, 22 government/elected officials; four members of other law enforcement agencies; one member of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology; and 35 security guards have been apprehended for defying the gun ban.
The period saw police nationwide conducting over 181,000 checkpoints; nearly 12,700 joint PNP-AFP checkpoints; and serving 299 search warrants for violation of Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulations Act of 2013.
Police also accounted for 1,380 assorted firearms including 1,084 small arms, 30 light arms and 266 improvised guns as well as 11,920 other deadly weapons specifically 86 grenades, 364 improvised explosive devices, nearly 10,900 various live ammunition and even 60 gun replicas during the period, said Banac.
Gen. Albayalde has reiterated the PNP’s strict adherence to all related Comelec resolutions covering the ban on carrying of firearms and employment of bodyguards. He also reminded everyone of the Alunan Doctrine that allows only two security personnel under extreme cases, subject to background investigation and approval by Comelec.
Persons arrested for violating the gun ban especially law enforcers face penalties such as not less than one year to six years imprisonment, dishonorable discharge from the service and forfeiture of all retirement privileges and benefits. Government employees will also be disqualified from holding any public office once caught for violating the ban which will end on June 12, the PNP leadership said. Gen. Albayalde likewise pointed out that aside from the mandated responsibilities of the PNP as a deputized agency of the Comelec, police law enforcement and public safety duties for election security operations is contained in the following 8-point SIDEPLAN which means:
Strict implementation of gun ban; Intensified focus law enforcement operations; Dismantling of private armed groups; Early preparation of security and contingency plans; Provide security to vulnerable candidates; Limited reshuffle of PNP personnel; Accounting of loose firearms; and Neutralization of guns-for-hire and criminal gangs.
The PNP leadership likewise maintained that all measures are already in place to protect the human rights of all persons passing through checkpoints that have mushroomed all over the country to arrest the presence of illegal firearms, partisan armed groups and criminal gangs that may be used to disrupt the holding of a secure and fair May 13 national and local elections.
In Metro Manila alone, National Capital Region Police Office chief, Director Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar said that the number of gun ban violators have reached over 70 since last Sunday with more than 100 firearms and other deadly weapons seized by his men since last January 13.
Gen. Albayalde said PNP personnel manning the checkpoint must have a presentable appearance, wearing the prescribed PNP uniform. The POP state that likewise, the civilian members must be in their organization’s uniform with their names conspicuously displayed for identification. In no case shall the civilian components be allowed to bear firearms.
In Metro Manila and other major cities, police officers manning the checkpoints should not wear Field Service Uniforms (FSU) or black fatigues in lieu of the General Office Attire unless the conduct of checkpoint is a result of a Hot Pursuit Operation or a High Risk Checkpoint.
The use of mixed uniforms (GOA, FSU, black fatigue) in the conduct of checkpoint is strictly prohibited.
The POP also states that as much as possible, the area where the checkpoints shall be established must be properly lighted, with a noticeable signage bearing the name of the PNP unit and the participating organization/s visibly displayed in the checkpoint site to prevent any apprehension from the public of the existence of the same.
Most importantly, the POP states that due courtesy must always be accorded to the motorists, traders and the commuters during the conduct of checkpoint.
It says that the spokesperson must greet the people subject for inspection, ask apology for the inconvenience, appeal for understanding and state the reasons of the operation. The POP also requires the spokesperson of the checkpoint to thank the person/s searched.