By Vince Alvic Alexis F. Nonato, Reporter

Comelec extends to ‘high-risk’ individuals eligibility for gun ban exemption

Posted on February 01, 2016

THE COMMISSION on Elections (Comelec) has extended to “high-risk” individuals the eligibility to seek exemption from the six-month election gun ban.

Resolution No. 10047, promulgated on Jan. 28, now amends the gun ban rules to entertain applications from these “high-risk” individuals for the Certificate of Authority, an exemption that allows them to bear, carry, and transport firearms and other deadly weapons.

To qualify, an applicant also has to submit “credible evidence,” such as a police report or threat assessment.

The Committee on the Ban on Firearms and Security Personnel (CBFSP) will then conduct a background check and thorough evaluation of the sufficiency and urgency of the exemption.

The said resolution will also now allow the Philippine National Police to provide security detail to “qualified private individuals” under certain conditions.

Such individuals can avail themselves of security detail if there is an absence of security or intelligence agencies in an area, or the area has a history of violence or is considered an area of concern.

Eligible individuals include those with sufficient evidence of being “high-risk” or those admitted under the government’s Witness Protection Program.

These amendments were made at the recommendation of Law Department Acting Director Maria Norina Tangaro-Casingal, who submitted on Jan. 14 a memorandum to Commissioner Al A. Parreño, chairman of the CBFSP.

Besides allowing greater leeway for private individuals, the resolution also now allows incumbent lawmakers who are candidates to apply for gun ban exemption.

Previous rules read that it limited the application to “senators and members of the House of Representatives (who are not candidates),” a phrase that is now deleted from the rules.

Ms. Tangaro-Casingal opined in her memorandum that even as a candidate, an incumbent legislator is still a high-ranking official entitled to discharge his duties to the full term of his office.

The gun ban runs from Jan. 10 to June 8. Under the Comelec rules, all firearm permits are suspended during this 150-day period and only those authorized by the CBFSP are allowed to bear firearms or avail themselves of security services. Such leeway is mostly limited to public officials, diplomats, and personnel handling money.