Comelec OKs automatic gun ban exemption for senior gov't officials

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 11 2022 06:08 PM

Comelec chair granted power to issue gun ban exemptions

MANILA - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc has authorized the automatic exemption of senior government officials from the ban on forearms and security detail.

It also granted the chairperson the power to issue gun ban exemptions under certain circumstances.

"Senior government officials granted exemption from gun ban and provided security detail. Also NBI organic agents and election officers were granted similar exemption," Chairman Saidamen Pangarungan announced Monday in a press conference.

Pangarungan said the en banc amended Comelec Resolution No. 10728 to recalibrate the rules and regulations on the election gun ban. 

"I want to stress that the amendment aims to expedite and simplify the grant of exemptions to the ban on the bearing, carrying and transporting of firearms or other deadly weapons, as well as ammunitions and explosives and/or their components, to deserving applicant public officials," Pangarungan said.

"I want to emphasize also that these exemptions were enjoyed by qualified senior government officials in previous elections. These officials we believe need to feel secured in performing their duties, free from fear and pressure from others," he added.

Pangarungan said the following were granted exemptions:

  • The Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines, and 2 security detail
  • The Senate President and the Senators of the Republic of the Philippines, and 2 security detail
  • The Speakers and Members of the House of Representatives, and and 2 security detail
  • The Chief Justice and the Justices of the Supreme Court, and 2 security detail for each
  • The Justices of the Court of Appeals, the Sandiganbayan, and the Court of Tax Appeals 
  • The Judges of the Regional Trial Courts and Municipal/ Metropolitan/ Circuit Trial Courts
  • Cabinet Secretaries, Undersecretaries, Assistant Secretaries, with 2 and 1 security detail, respectively
  • Ombudsman and 2 security detail, Deputy Ombudsmen, and Investigators and Prosecutors of the Ombudsman
  • Prosecutor General, Chief State Prosecutor, State Prosecutors, and Prosecutors mentioned under R.A. No. 10071 of the National Prosecution Service of the Department of Justice
  • Officials, including organic agents, I repeat organic agents not civilian agents, of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI); and
  • Election Officers (EO), Provincial Election Supervisors (PES), and Regional Election Directors (RED) provided that they may be entitled to not more than 2 security detail as approved by the REDs.

Pangarungan said President Rodrigo Duterte was already covered by a previous exemption.

"You know we granted a certificate of authority to the Armed Forces of the Philippines lahat ng sundalo mayroon silang authority to carry firearms in the same manner yung lahat ng police mayroong general authority to carry firearms. Don’t forget that the president is commander in chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines so mayroon na siyang dating exemption si President Duterte," Pangarungan said.

Pangarungan said other officials with cabinet rank, like the Solicitor General, also have the same exemption.

He explained the 3 conditions for the grant of these exemptions:

1. That the above-named persons possess the valid License to Own and Possess Firearms (LTOPF), Certificate of Firearms Registration (CFR), valid Permit to Carry Firearms Outside of Residence (PTCFOR).

2. In no instance shall they carry two (2) firearms.

3. That these public officials shall submit to the CBFSC not later than April 19, 2022 the list of their firearms and qualified security detail.

"This is automatic, effective and executory itong resolution, automatic iyan but they are required to comply with conditions I mentioned.," Pangarungan said.

He cited security concerns in justifying the automatic exemptions.

"For the record I do not want any senior government official to get injured or lose his life from an armed assailant simply because he cannot defend himself with his own firearm due to the gun ban," he said.

“I lament the fact that applications for exemption from the gun ban were denied by the CBFSC for some officials like Supreme Court and Court of Appeals justices, Cabinet secretaries, senators and congressmen. These are very responsible officials who, because of the sensitive nature of their work need to protect themselves with their firearm," he added.

Pangarungan said he was among those denied a gun ban exemption by the Comelec when he was still secretary of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos.

He said the poll body had been deluged by applications for exemptions, and disclosed plans to decentralize gun ban applications.