COMELEC recalibrates gun ban guidelines, decentralizes exemption applications

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 30) — The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) has recalibrated the guidelines on the ban on firearms and security concerns in light of the upcoming national and local elections on May 9.

In its regular en banc meeting, the poll body introduced amendments to Comelec Resolution No. 10728, which tackles the rules and regulations on the ban of possessing firearms or other deadly weapons, and employment, availment, or engagement of the services of security personnel or bodyguards during the election period.

The amendments include the "decentralization of the granting of exemption to the Regional Directors and Election Officers and the grant of automatic exemption to justices, judges, and prosecutors, including the Ombudsman."

The modifications aim to cut the administrative things that slow down the process of applying for gun ban exemption

The Comelec previously said they wanted to simplify the application for gun ban exemption, especially for members of the judiciary, as they are the ones evidently prone to threat during the elections.

In a public briefing on Monday, Garcia said, "Bakit natin papahirapan kumuha ng exemption lalo na yung mga nasa judiciary, judges, justices, yung mga public servants gaya sa PAO [Public Attorneys Office], katulad ng mga Comelec field personnel? Alam naman natin na sila ay may threat.”

[Translation: Why would we give the members of the judiciary, judges, justices, public servants from PAO, and Comelec field personnel a hard time getting an exemption? We all know that they are prone to threats.]

READ: Comelec pushes for review of gun ban exemption

In a statement, the Comelec said the Committee on the Ban on Firearms and Security Concerns (CBFSC) was given one week from Wednesday to finetune and finalize the proposed amendments, to ensure that the regional directors and election officers possess the required capacity to undertake the task, and to consult with Comelec partners and study the safeguards needed for such amendments.

The nationwide gun ban has been officially in effect from Jan. 9, the official start of the May 2022 election period, until June 8.