MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Lito Lapid and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita “Ging” Deles are among the top government officials and prominent personalities who filed applications for exemptions to the election gun ban, which will start on Sunday, January 13, 2013.
Aside from Lapid and Deles, other people who sought for a gun ban exemption are former environment secretary Michael Defensor, Congressman Salvio Fortuno, Public Attorney's Office chief Persida Acosta, Pangalian Balindong, Seth Frederick Jalosjos, and Harlin Cast Abayon.
A certain Lucio Co also applied for an exemption though it is not yet clear if this is the same Lucio Co who is a businessman.
Records of the Commission on Elections showed applications for gun ban exemptions were received as early as December 26, 2012.
As of January 7, some 120 applications have been received by Comelec through the committee on the ban on firearms and security personnel.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines applied for exemptions for the Presidential Security Group, the government arsenal, the AFP headquarters and the 1st AFP Affiliated Reserve Medical Center.
Among the law enforcement agencies who filed for exemptions are the Philippine National Police, Rizal Provincial Jail, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, Department of Justice witness protection program, Department of National Defense, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Development Bank of the Philippines, the Vice Presidential security detachment, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Bureau of Customs, airport police, Bureau of Treasury, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, and the Senate sergeant at arms.
A total of 56 security agencies and 3 firearms manufacturers have applied for exemptions as well.
Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes says they are revising their rules and regulation for the gun ban to clarify what appear to be vague provisions.
Brillantes indicated he prefers to be parsimonious in issuing exemptions, stressing the importance of the gun ban in maintaining peace and order during the election period.
He said Comelec will go through all the applications.
“Ayoko sana magbigay exemption na marami. Lahat ng tao businessman eh. Sa amin mahalaga yun it will help in peace and order kaya nga we want to avoid giving too much exemptions,” he said.
Brillantes said so far, President Aquino, a gun enthusiast, has not applied for exemptions.
He clarified though that they are inclined to give exemptions to the security of officials rather than the individuals themselves.
Brillantes says even government forces have to apply for exemptions.
They can entertain applications even after the gun ban begins this Sunday.
On Monday, Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said everything is prepared for the implementation of the gun ban, including the setting up of checkpoints in poll hotspots.
The Commission en banc issued resolution 9561A back in december 2012, which said that during the election period, "no person shall bear, carry or transport firearms or other deadly weapons outside his residence or place of business, and in public places including any buildings, streets, parks, and private vehicles or public conveyances, even if licensed to possess or to carry the same and that no candidate for public office, including incumbent public officers seeking election to any public office, shall employ, avail himself of or engage the services of security personnel or bodyguards, whether or not such bodyguards are regular members or officers of the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) or other law enforcement agency of the government."
The resolution further requires a permit from a special Comelec committee for the transport, importation and sale of firearms and explosives and their spare parts. Exemptions to the ban must be applied with the committee on the ban for firearms and security personnel.
Aside from firearms, air soft guns and any deadly weapons like bladed instruments are also banned from January 13 to June 12, 2013.