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Comelec exempts 159 govt execs, private individuals from gun ban

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has approved the applications for gun ban exemptions for the security detail of 159 government officials and private individuals. Based on Comelec record as of February 20, those who were given exemptions were 16 senators, 54 congressmen, 14 governors and 19 other government officials. Some 56 private individuals also received a similar privilege.     The Comelec also deferred the gun ban exemption application of three senators, 28 congressmen, 12 governors, 60 government officials and 48 private individuals, and denied the application of a congressman, four government officials and 28 private individuals. Among those whose applications were approved were:
  • Senators Loren Legarda
  • Francis Pangilinan
  • Panfilo Lacson
  • Gregorio Honasan II
  • Pia Cayetano
  • Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
  • Sergio Osmena III
  • Antonio Trillantes IV
  • Teofisto Guingona III
Former President and incumbent Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and former First Lady and incumbent Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos were also granted a gun ban exemption. Among House members who got exemption were Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao and his wife Jinkee, and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte. The gun ban started on January 13, the start of the election period, and will end on June 12. Comelec Resolution No. 9561 states that “[N]o person shall bear, carry, or transport firearms or other deadly weapons in public places," and that “no candidate for public office, including incumbent public officers seeking election to any public office, shall employ, avail himself of, or engage the services of security personnel or bodyguards." The Comelec only allows security personnel to carry two fire arms — one short and one long or two short guns. The resolution added that those who may avail of bodyguards are the President, Vice President, senators who are not re-electionists, justices, judges, Cabinet secretaries, chairman and commissioners of the Comelec, chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and AFP Major Service Commanders, and director generals and senior officers of the Philippine National Police (PNP). It also said that operatives of the PNP and AFP are allowed to carry firearms during the election period. Among the government agencies that were exempted from the gun ban for the 2013 elections but not in the 2010 polls were the Bureau of Corrections, Bureau of Treasury, Department of Interior and Local Government, Office of the Vice President, Department of National Defense, among others. Added were justices of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Sandiganbayan and Court of Tax Appeals; and judges of the Regional Trial Courts and Municipal/Metropolitan/Circuit trial courts. Those usually allowed to carry firearms both for the 2010 and 2013 elections are the members of the PNP and AFP, security personnel of foreign diplomatic corps, International Security Operations Group of the Witness Protection Program under the Department of Justice, security escorts of members of the House of Representatives and Senate who are not re-lectionists, election officers, lawyers and directors of the Comelec, personnel of the National Bureau of Investigation, among others. — Amita O. Legaspi/KBK, GMA News