MANILA, Philippines – At the stroke of midnight on January 13, election period officially started in the Philippines and the Commission on Elections, together with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), are now enforcing the election gun ban.
Comelec chairman Sixto Brilliantes inspected the checkpoints in Manila, Parañaque, Pasay, Makati, Pasig, Marikina, Quezon City and Caloocan early Sunday morning.
Authorities said they only plan to conduct a quick inspection of the checkpoints – lasting less than 10 seconds – in order to avoid traffic.
"By putting checkpoints, they are aware that we are enforcing a gun ban, kasi medyo mabigat ang penalty ng gun ban," Brilliantes said.
Those caught violating the gun ban may face jail time of six years and lose the right to vote and run for public office.
Motorists who approach checkpoints at night are reminded to dim their headlights, open the lights inside their vehicle, and lower their windows in order to avoid suspicion.
The checkpoint itself has to be clearly identified, and the officers conducting the inspection have to be in complete uniform. There should also be a marked vehicle in the checkpoint.
The checkpoints will be in place until June 12.
Earlier, authorities identified 900 areas in the country as election hot spots.
President Benigno Aquino III has ordered the PNP to strictly implement the campaign against loose firearms, especially during the election period.
Meanwhile, Brillantes explained on his Twitter account that they have already allowed exemptions in the gun ban for a number of government officials.
Included in the list are Vice-President Jejomar Binay and senators who are not running in the midterm election.
Also exempted are cabinet secretaries, membrs and heads of agencies, such as the Bureau of Corrections, Department of Justice, Bureau of Immigration, Office of the Ombudsman and the Commission on Human Rights. -- Reports from Pia Gutierrez and Bettina Magsaysay, ABS-CBN News