Nationwide gun ban ends this midnight

WHEN the clock strikes at 12 tonight, the nationwide gun ban officially ends with the Philippine National Police going on another mission: the need to ensure the certainty of punishment for over 4,600 persons arrested for violating the prohibition on the unauthorized carrying of firearms and other deadly weapons during the election period which started last January 12.

The PNP headed by Director General Oscar D. Albayalde said it is going all-out to ensure the conviction of the arrested gun ban offenders including some members of the police force as well as other members of different law enforcement agencies and government employees and officials.

During the 2018 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, PNP agents arrested more than 4,000 gun ban violators and seized over 1,000 firearms and nearly 8000 other deadly weapons and live ammunition..

During the 2010 presidential, national and local elections, police also enforced a nationwide gun ban which took effect on January 13 and ended on May 13, 2018. During the period, nearly 3,700 gun ban offenders were arrested including 43 government employees, four jail personnel, one firearm, seven other law enforcement officers and four members of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit.

Just like in previous national and local elections, nearly 95 percent of the arrested violators are civilians who were found in possession of either genuine firearms, home-made guns, bladed weapons, gun replicas, explosives and various types of live ammunition.

Under Comelec rules and regulations, violation of the gun ban is an offense which carries the penalty of a maximum of six years in prison and a minimum jail term of less than one year.  The gun ban is an election offense which also imposes the penalty of dismissal from the service for any law enforcer or public official who will be caught violating the rule.

With the end of the gun ban, all Permit-to-Carry-Firearms-Outside of Residence issued by the PNP chief to qualified gunholders will resume its effectivity until its expiration date. Gen. Albayalde ordered the temporary suspension of all PTCFORs during the election period.

However, although the gun ban will already end tonight, PNP spokesman, Colonel Bernard M. Banac said that they will continue enforcing a massive campaign to account for loose firearms across the country while at the same time going after private armed groups, guns-for-hire and criminal organizations.

In Metro Manila, National Capital Region Police Office director, Major General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar said they will also continue to aggressively implement their  Oplan: Katok aimed at accounting for holders of firearms with expired licenses.

Since the ban on the unauthorized carrying of gun and other weapons started last January 13, police have already seized 5,259 firearms  and nearly 50,000 other deadly weapons and various live ammunition across the country, Banac said.

Banac said a total of 6,302 gun ban violators were also arrested during the period.

During the election period, all PTCOFRs issued to licensed gunholders are automatically suspended with only members of the police and the armed services authorized to bear their issued weapons in public while in the official performance of duty and in their prescribed uniform.

Officials said even carrying of gun replicas is prohibited during the election period. Last week, three persons including a purported media practitioner were arrested by the Mimaropa police for violation of the gun ban and illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, Police Regional Office 4-B director, Brigadier General Tomas C. Apolinario Jr. announced yesterday.

In Siquijor, a man who toyed with a gun replica in a beach resort in Maria municipality was jailed by the local police amid a complaint from local tourists who got scared of him, PRO7 director, Brig. Gen. Debold M. Sinas said