Inting quits Comelec's gun ban panel

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 12)— Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Socorro Inting has stepped down as chairperson of the gun ban committee "in protest" of recent amendments to the poll body's rules.

In her resignation letter shared to the media Tuesday, Inting said she cannot remain as panel head after the en banc granted chairman Saidamen Pangarungan the power to exempt certain cases from the gun ban and place an area under Comelec control.

"The bestowal on the chairman of the Commission of the power to grant gun ban exemptions and place election areas of concern under Comelec Control based on the vague and arbitrary phrase of 'meritorious and urgent cases' essentially rendered futile or pointless the existence and functions of the [committee]," Inting explained in her letter.

"I cannot in good conscience continue to remain as [c]hairperson when this same position has already been made inutile," she added.

Inting's resignation takes effect immediately.

The changes in Comelec's policy came through a 4-3 en banc vote on Monday.

Pangarungan earlier lamented the slow approval of gun ban applications and wanted to farm out the process to regional offices to expedite them.

READ: COMELEC recalibrates gun ban guidelines, decentralizes exemption applications

In a statement on Wednesday, the Comelec chairman acknowledged the dissent, saying it is "an integral element of democracy" and that he welcomes the differing opinions of his colleagues.

"I have nothing but respect for the valuable work done by all our commissioners, especially by Commissioner Inting in the CBFSC (Committee on the Ban on Firearms and Security Concerns) and all the committees that ensure the conduct of honest, peaceful and credible elections. We are professionals and we will continue to work towards a common goal,” Pangarungan said.

He reiterated he will only place an area under Comelec control when there is “an extreme need,” and as recommended by the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“As of now, I have not placed any area under Comelec control. It is my fervent hope that there will be no need for the exercise of such authority,” he added.

During Wednesday's en banc meeting, Commissioners Aimee Ferolino and Marlon Casquejo wore black in solidarity with Inting. The two also voted against Pangarungan’s special powers.

Commissioner George Garcia, meanwhile, denied there is infighting in the poll body.

CNN Philippines' Melissa Lopez contributed to this report.