Comelec won’t issue gun ban exemptions
Wednesday, 17 March 2010 00:00
By BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON ReporterNoting that there seems to be a proliferation of “fake” gun ban exemption certificates, a high-ranking official of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday said that they are not issuing any gun ban exemptions for individual gun carriers.
According to Commissioner Lucenito Tagle, they have never issued a gun ban exemption since that would violate Comelec Resolution 8714, which only allows law-enforcement agencies to bear firearms during the campaign period.
“Fake yan. napapansin naming na nagpro-proliferate yan. Ang nahuhuli yung nabentahan. Ang dapat mahuli yung nagbebenta [We have noticed that fake gun ban exemption certificates are proliferating. But the ones caught are those buying them. Those who should be arrested are the ones selling the fake certificates],” Tagle said. He added that the poll body even disapproved the applications of judges, prosecutors and Cabinet secretaries to carry firearms.
“We don’t grant exemptions individually, only law-enforcement agencies are allowed [to do so]. They are enumerated in that resolution,” Tagle said.
Reports have reached the Comelec that there were some individuals possessing gun ban exemption forms signed by Tagle. The commissioner, however, said that those forms were still the old ones used by Comelec Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer during the 2007 mid-term elections when he was still heading the gun ban committee.
“Noong araw nag-issue si Commissioner Ferrer yun ang ginagamit niya. Binago lang yung date saka yung signature. Tinanggal yung signature ni Ferrer, nilagay yung akin [Ferrer used to issue gun ban exemptions using those forms. But the date and signature were changed and my signature was the one used],” Tagle explained.
He said that if an individual is found guilty of carrying firearms during the election period, he or she can be imprisoned from one to six years and disqualified from holding public office.
Tagle added that the individuals who possess fake gun ban exemption certificates can also be charged with falsification of public documents, which is a criminal offense.
Under Comelec Resolution 8714, only law-enforcement agencies are allowed to carry firearms during the election period from January 10 to June 9.
Tagle said that there were about 1,360 individuals arrested for violating the Comelec gun ban, of which five or six cases involved fake certificates.
He added that the gun ban violation cases are being investigated by the Philippine National Police.
“They [offenders] can be criminally liable for violation of the Omnibus Election Code and of our resolution once they are found guilty,” Tagle said.
Cory, Ninoy posters
Meanwhile, Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento also on Tuesday said that posters of former President Corazon “Cory” Aquino and her husband, former Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., that line up Roxas Boulevard in Manila do not violate campaign laws since they do not bear the name or face of Liberal Party standard-bearer Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino 3rd, the only son of the Aquinos.
He added that Cory and Ninoy are both considered national treasures so the Comelec could not tear down the posters showing the couple.
“Cory used to be our president and Ninoy is an icon. Personally, I cannot speak on behalf of the commission, wala naman kasamang candidate itong dalawang ito. Kung hindi naman kasama si Noynoy [But the posters do not have Noynoy or any political candidate],” Sarmiento said.
Under the Comelec guidelines on campaigning, a candidate is only allowed to post campaign materials in common poster areas designated by the poll body.
Earlier, some groups questioned the presence of the yellow Cory-Ninoy posters since this could be a form of campaigning by Noynoy.
The posters were put up after the death of the former president last year.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez also on Monday said that they might request that the Cory-Ninoy posters be taken down since people can still remember the Aquino couple even without the posters.
Mayor Alfredo Lim of Manila has refused to take down the posters, which Jimenez personally believes is not an election offense.