Saturday, June 29, 2013

Comelec to enforce gun ban during 45-day barangay, SK election period
By Danny Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, June 29 (PNA) –- The Commission on Elections will impose a gun ban during the 45-day period covering the synchronized barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.

The ban takes effect starting Sept. 28 until Nov. 12, which covers 30 days before and 15 days after the date of the elections.

Comelec Regional Director Romeo Fortes on Friday said here that under the law, no person shall bear, carry or transport firearms or other deadly weapons in public places during the election period unless authorized in writing by the commission.

The same law says “only regular members or officers of the Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces and other enforcement agencies of the government who are duly deputized in writing by the Comelec for election duty may be authorized to carry firearms during the period.”

However, Fortes said, when in the possession of firearms, the deputized law enforcement officer must be in full uniform, showing clearly and legibly his name, rank and serial number which shall remain visible at all times and in the actual performance of his election duty in the specific area designated by the commission.

During the period, he said, no candidates, including incumbent officials seeking election, shall employ or avail themselves of or engage the services of security personnel or bodyguards -- whether or not such bodyguards are regular members or officers of the PNP, AFP or other law enforcement agencies.

When circumstances, however, warrant -- including but not limited to threats to life and security of a candidate -- he or she may be assigned by the commission, upon due application, regular members of the police or military who shall provide him security for the duration of the election period, Fortes said.

The officers assigned for security duty to a candidate shall be subject to the same requirement as to wearing of uniforms unless exempted in writing by the commission, he said.

Also during the election period, Fortes said “issuance of appointments, promotions, creation of new positions, or giving of salary increases in government offices, agencies or instrumentalities are prohibited.”

In the same way, transfer and detail of officers and employees in the civil service -- including public school teachers, and suspension of any elective provincial, city, municipal or barangay officer -- are not allowed.

Raising of funds through benefit dances, lotteries and cockfights, among other forms of fund-raising activities, is also forbidden based on the provisions of Omnibus Elections Code.

Fortes said qualified voters in Bicol should register to be able to vote in the Oct. 28 barangay and SK elections.

Those who voted for SK elections in 2010 and already qualified for the barangay elections need to register again to be able to vote.

Qualified to register for SK elections are Filipino citizens who are at least 15 but below 18 years of age on Oct. 28; actually residing in the barangay for at least six months on election day; and those not otherwise disqualified by law, Fortes said.

Registrations to be conducted by municipal election offices regionwide will start on July 22 and end on July 31, he added. (PNA) HBC/FGS/DOC/CBD