Comelec sets early gun ban exemption processing

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 22) - Elections authorities set an earlier processing of applications for gun ban exemptions in relation to the barangay and Sanguniang Kabataan (SK) elections in October.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said on Monday it will begin accepting applications for gun ban exemption on June 5.

"For the first time we will be opening the acceptance of applications earlier. Last elections, we started in December but we found it right and proper to open earlier," Comelec Commissioner Aimee Ferolino said in a press briefing.

She said this should address delays and to make sure that only the right people will have the authority to carry firearms.

Despite the spate of political violence, the Comelec sees no unusual increase in the number of applications for gun ban exemption.

"Wala naman talagang widespread or massive threat sa mga areas natin. Wala naman tayong nakikitang magiging cause na magti-trigger ng influx ng applications," Ferolino said.

[Translation: There is really no widespread or massive threat in our areas. We do not see anything that will trigger an influx of applications.]

On possibly deferring the polls in some areas because of violence, Ferolino said there are guidelines to consider in postponing election, say, in Negros Oriental.

"There are parameters in the declaration of the postponement of an election and when it is not met, we can't just, out of whim, declare an area not suitable for the conduct of an election," she said.

The law allows Comelec to postpone elections not later than 30 days after the cessation of the cause for such postponement, and in all cases not later than 90 days after the original date of elections.

The grounds for postponement include rebellion, insurrection, violence, terrorism, loss or destruction of election paraphernalia or records, force majeure, and other analogous causes of such a nature that prevents the holding of a free and orderly election.

The barangay and SK elections will be held on Oct. 30.