(UPDATE) 3 soldiers, 5 cops violate gun ban

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 11 2010 04:08 PM | Updated as of Jan 12 2010 06:40 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Out of the 47 people arrested on the first day of the May 10 election gun ban, 3 are military personnel, including a junior Army officer, while 5 are policemen.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner Jr. said the 3 soldiers will be facing administrative charges depending on the results of the investigation by the Philippine National Police (PNP).

He said the AFP has been disseminating to its officers and men the contents of Comelec Resolution 8714, which states the rules and regulations on the bearing, carrying or transporting of firearms.

It also carries rules on the availment or engagement of security services or bodyguards during the election period.

Based on the Comelec resolution, which is also included in the joint letter directive of the AFP and PNP, it states that only on-duty soldiers who are in uniform are allowed to carry their firearms.

Soldiers who are going to their area of duty and on their way back to their homes are also allowed exempted from the gun ban.

Intelligence operatives who have legitimate missions are also exempted from the gun ban.

The military reminded its soldiers that without these requirements, all soldiers have to follow the rules of the total gun ban.

Army officer

One of those arrested on Sunday for violating the election gun ban is a Philippine Army officer who was reportedly caught with a caliber .45 pistol.

Army Capt. Rene Gimena was about to board a plane for a flight to Iloilo when he was caught.

Gimena is set to face charges of violating the gun ban before the Pasay City prosecutor’s office.

A retired military personnel in Laguna was also caught on Sunday for violating the gun ban after an alleged shooting incident.

Ronaldo Puon, the retired military personnel, was set to return a caliber .45 to a gun vendor, according to his companion Sunday Rarela.

Rarela said the ownership and license of the pistol was supposed to be transferred to him. While awaiting the transfer papers, Rarela said he wanted the gun to be in the gun store since he did not want to be caught violating the gun ban.

However, before they went to the gun store, Rarela said Puon asked to accompany him to find the person who stole his motorcycle. While Puon was inside a house inquiring about the theft, a certain Nestor Reyes reportedly went berserk.

Rarela said he took out the gun to stop Reyes. Reyes, however, allegedly managed to grapple with him, and while they fought, the gun reportedly went off, wounding Reyes.

However, Reyes, in an interview at the provincial hospital in Sta. Cruz in Laguna, told a different story. He said Rarela and Puon both carried guns and it was Rarela who shot him.

Reyes suffered a bullet wound in his chest.

Peaceful elections

In his command message, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Victor Ibrado said that the goal of the AFP is to help the Comelec ensure an honest, orderly and peaceful elections.

He also said that the AFP will hold responsible commanders who will violate the rules of non-partisanship and professionalism.

Thirty-three out of the 47 gun ban violators are civilians.

According to PNP deputy spokesperson Insp. Kimberly Gonzales, cases may be filed against those arrested, and they face up to 6 years in prison with no probation. They will also be banned from holding public office.

A total of 988 checkpoints will be set up nationwide. It will be put up at regular hours from 10 p.m. up to 4 a.m.

The checkpoints will be in place from January 10 to June 9, and authorities will prioritize 550 checkpoints in various cities and towns in 50 provinces. -- reports from Jay Ruiz, Gus Abelgas and Sol Aragones, ABS-CBN News