THE 5-month nationwide gun ban ended Wednesday midnight with police arresting 6,362 offenders and confiscating 5,306 guns which could have been used to commit violence during the May 13 national and local elections, Philippine National Police spokesman Colonel Bernard M. Banac said yesterday.
The PNP spokesperson said that the gun ban was largely instrumental in preventing poll-related violence during the January 13-June 12, 2019 election period. Apart from that, the police’s effort to go after partisan armed groups and other lawless elements and the strict implementation of all Comelec rules and regulations were named as factors behind the generally peaceful May 13 national and local polls.
The recent polls will go down in history as one of the most peaceful in the country with only 60 poll-related violent incidents recorded. It was a 55 percent reduction compared to the 133 violent election-related incidents validated during investigation during the 2016 presidential, national and local elections.
“What is more significant is the fact that we were able to take away 5,300 instruments of violence from the hands of criminals and terrorist elements…” Banac said.
The guns which, according to Banac are enough to arm a division-sized police force are now in the safekeeping of police units which confiscated them and will be used in the prosecution of the suspects.
Right now, the PNP headed by Director General Oscar D. Albayalde is embarking on another mission which is the need to ensure the certainty of punishment for the 6,362 persons arrested for violating the prohibition on the unauthorized carrying of firearms and other deadly weapons including explosives during the election period.
The gun ban offenders were broken down into: 5,989 civilians, 48 policemen, 25 military personnel, 94 public officials, 104 security guards, 19 members of other law enforcement agencies, 24 paramilitary personnel, 31 members of domestic threat groups, 15 foreign nationals, nine members of private armed groups, and four members of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.
On the other hand, the 5,300 guns and 50,386 other deadly weapons including bladed and pointed weapons, gun replicas, explosives and various live ammunition were confiscated as a result of over 838,000 checkpoint operations conducted by the PNP jointly with the Armed Forces, the service of search warrants for violation of Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulations Act of 2003 and RA 9516 or illegal possession of explosives and other police operations during the election period.
With the gun ban lifted, the PNP leadership expects more licensed gun-holders with expired firearms’ licenses, Permit-to-Carry-Firearms-Outside-of-Residence and License to Own and Possess Firearms to renew their papers to avoid trouble with the law.
The PNP One-Stop-Shop in Camp Crame suddenly has been deluged with hundreds of applicants for LTOFP and firearms’ registration who are all required to undergo a drug and neuro-psychiatric test and submit government clearances including those from the PNP and the National Bureau of Investigation.
The PNP 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 8,000 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 were civilians who were found in possession of either genuine firearms, home-made guns, bladed weapons, gun replicas, explosives and various types of live ammunition.