MANILA, Philippines--The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday said it discovered that fake certificates of exemption from the gun ban are being sold by unscrupulous individuals.
A gun ban is in effect during the entire election period, from January 10 to June 9. Unlike in past elections, the poll body is not granting exemptions to carry firearms this year.
Commissioner Lucenito Tagle told reporters that the Comelec received reports claiming that some people had been found carrying fake forms that allow the possession of firearms. These forms, he said, are being sold for P5,000 each.
Tagle said out of the 1,360 individuals arrested for illegally carrying firearms, 5 or 6 of were found to be carrying fake gun ban exemption certificates.
Under Comelec Resolution 8714, only those from law enforcing agencies like the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) are allowed to carry firearms during the election period.
The format of the fake certificates found were said to be copied from those used in the previous elections. The poll body used to award certificates of exemption to interested individuals only during previous elections.
This year, however, the Comelec is implementing a total gun ban nationwide. "Now, it's very clear that only law enforcement agencies are allowed to carry firearms," Tagle said.
The commissioner added that the poll body didn't allow even judges, mediamen, and government officials to be issued gun ban exemptions. "We don't grant exemptions individually," he said.
But aside from arresting those who will be caught with the fake certificates, Tagle is more interested in tracing the roots of this illegal act. "Gusto namin malaman yung brains, kung sino nagbebenta nyan," he said.
Tagle said that the PNP and AFP are conducting surveillance to investigate the source of the fake gun ban exemption forms.
Those who will be arrested will face criminal offense for the falsification of document, and election offense for violating the poll body's resolution. They will be facing imprisonment of 1 to 6 years, and might be barred from voting.
Meanwhile, Tagle said that the PNP had arrested 40 armed group members from various parts of the country. The poll body, however, will not yet put their provinces under Comelec control, as they still are waiting for the assessment report of AFP and PNP. (Newsbreak)