BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The implementation of Comelec firearms ban took effect January 9 in Negros Occidental, as checkpoints were established by the Philippine National Police in strategic areas of various towns and cities, with assistance of the Philippine Army.
Police authorities are appealing to the public to abide by the provisions of COMELEC Resolution No. 10728 that impose a 150-day firearms prohibition period for the entire duration of the election period from January 9 up to June 8 this year.
Brig. Gen. Inocencio Pasaporte, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said that all Army battalions have been ordered to jointly conduct intensified checkpoints, as part of their security measures to ensure a peaceful May 9 elections.
PLt. Abegael Donasco, deputy spokesperson of the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office, encouraged those who want to be exempted from the gun ban to apply for exemptions at the Comelec.
Anyone caught carrying a firearm will be charged with violating the Comelec resolution on the gun ban as well as additional charges related to RA 10591 or the Comprehensive Law on Firearms, Donasco said.
Under Comelec Resolution No. 10728, the PNP has suspended the validity of all Permits to Carry Firearms Outside of Residence (PTCFOR) issued to licensed firearm holders, juridical entities, and members of government law enforcement agencies.
As stipulated in the resolution, all gun-carrying privileges by virtue of PTCFOR issued by the PNP are suspended for the entire duration of the election period.
Also suspended are Permits issued by the PNP to transport firearms, ammunition, explosives, public firearms display and exhibits, as well as employment of security personnel for VIPs.
Donasco said that NOCPPO recalled all police personnel who have been serving as police escorts to local politicians in accordance to the rules and regulations set by the Comelec.
On the other hand, a drug suspect was intercepted and arrested by the police at a Comelec checkpoint on January 9 in Crossing Luguay in Brgy. Hawaiian, Silay City, Negros Occidental.
Nabbed was Ryan Benetua, who is tagged by the police as a Street Level Individual (SLI) drug personality, a resident of Hacienda Laguda in Brgy. 14, Victorias City.
The police said that three sachets of suspected shabu, and its paraphernalia were recovered from the possession of Benetua.
PLt. Liberty Indiape, deputy BCPO spokesperson, also said that simultaneous checkpoints have been established in strategic areas of Bacolod City, in coordination with the Comelec.*