Can Manila monitor who’s exempted of gun ban in Mindanao?
DAVAO CITY – The Commission on Elections in the region is clueless on who is exempted from its election gun ban in Southeastern Mindanao’s towns, cities, and provinces with the regional director having no idea if Davao del Sur gubernatorial candidate Claude Bautista or his bodyguards, suspects of the killings in Manila, were allowed to carry firearms at the height of canvassing of votes.The list is available only with the Comelec’s office assigned to the Committee of Firearms and Security Personnel in Manila, said Melcar Unso, spokesperson of the Comelec in Southeastern Mindanao.
Remlane Tambuang, Comelec 11 regional director, said they have no record of those exempted and added that the only way to find out is during inspection, police personnel require any one caught holding firearm must present his certificate of exemption.
He said the Comelec has a very centralized set-up in terms of application and the granting of certificates of exemptions.
Tambuang said the process does not involve the regional offices of the Comelec.
He said, however, that regional Comelec offices at least should be furnished a copy. “It would help us monitor with security personnel who these persons are,” he told MindaNews in an interview Friday.
MindaNews tried to reach Police Chief Superintendent Andres Caro II to confirm if police is furnished a copy but his aide-de-camp said he is not available for an interview.
Davao City Police Office Director Jaime Morente told MindaNews in a text message that only the Comelec and the one issued with an exemption has a copy of the certificate.
Tambuang said Comelec regional offices must have a list of those issued with exemption so that they can help in monitoring and alerting security personnel on which areas need attention.
He cited one proposal is for Comelec to delegate the issuance of the granting of exemptions to the local Comelec offices.
Unso clarified to MindaNews that among the reasons for the centralizations is that the list is confidential and that safeguards have to be kept so that the exemptions will not be faked.
He said even if the Comelec or the Police has a list if would be hard to monitor or prevent crime from happening.
Meanwhile, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Southeastern Mindanao Regional Peace and Order Council chair, told reporters he is ready to work in disarming Bautista if given the go signal by the Comelec, who’s in charge of the situation.
The Philippine National Police has created Task Force Sarmiento, a joint effort between the PNP, the National Bureau of Investigation, and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.
The NBI reported that an unidentified witness have surfaced and filed an affidavit Thursday in support of the complaint by the victims’ family.
Carrying, use or transporting of firearms is prohibited during election period in the Philippines from January 14 to June 13. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)