Total gun ban declared, canvassing suspended in Davao Sur

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/24 May) – The Commission on Elections has
declared a total gun ban in Davao del Sur, where they refer the
situation to be “unexpected,” and suspended the canvassing of votes in
the aftermath of the killings of a mayoralty candidate and his son and
because of looming election protest.

Romeo Brawner, elections commissioner in-charge for Southeastern
Mindanao, directed on Tuesday Commission on Elections personnel and
the police to implement the revocation of all previously issued
certificates of exemption from the gun ban in Davao del Sur.

But Brawner’s chief of staff, Belen Carasig, could not provide the
media a list of those issued exemptions, saying the police, in
coordination with the Regional Peace and Order Council, are
implementing the gun ban anyway.

The canvassing of votes were also suspended due to election protests
hurled by both the camps of Davao del Sur second district Rep. Claude
Bautista and archrival first district Rep. Douglas Ra Cagas, who are
both competing for the gubernatorial post. The latter cried alleged
padding in Malita town, bailiwick of the former. Certificates of
canvass from four towns, including Malita, have not been tabulated at
the provincial level.Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, regional peace and order council
chair, together with Comelec, police, military, and prosecution
officials, announced the enforcement of the total gun ban to reporters
in a press conference at The Marco Polo Thursday afternoon.

Duterte warned any one who refuses to surrender firearms, referring to
bodyguards securing politicians, will be shot if they offer violent
resistance.

He said those caught violating the ban will also be detained as he
urged those planning to pass by Davao del Sur to surrender their
firearms to the police.

Duterte earlier hinted he will move to disarm both the warring
political camps of congressmen Claude Bautista and Douglas Ra Cagas,
if asked by the Comelec.

He said the total gun ban will be a way to disband the private armies
of any politician in the province, including those who hired criminals
among their body guards.

Duterte said, however, that they do not intend to put martial law in
place. He said the move seeks to control the culture of intimidation
in the province, which has marred democracy in the exercise of free
elections.

But he warned that whoever yields to be violating the ban would be
nabbed and be detained en route to the filing of proper charges.

He brushed at politicians he did not name who reportedly cuddled
criminals among their bodyguards, adding they are the ones causing the
biggest problem.

Chief Supt. Andres Caro II, who was with Duterte in the press
conference, said the ban means more deployment of troops and conduct
of more checkpoints to seal the province in an effort to ensure strict
implementation.

Caro said with the gun ban comes the suspension and recall of
exemptions granted to political groups and their security personnel
“effective immediately” to prevent further occurrence of
election-related violence in the province.

He said it will be enforced strictly in the checkpoints. Caro said it
means only authorized personnel like the military and the police are
allowed to carry firearms.

According to the police regional office, the total ban was intended to
curb the intensifying political tension in the province in relation to
the killings of Isidro Sarmiento Sr., running for mayor of Malita
town, and son Danilo.

Only the winners for the provincial positions in Davao del Sur were
not yet proclaimed in Southeastern Mindanao as of Thursday following
the killings and election protests over alleged vote-padding,
according to Comelec spokesperson Melcar Unso.

Double murder charges have been filed by the Task Force Sarmiento
against Bautista, suspect in the Sarmiento killings, at the Provincial
Prosecutor’s Office in Davao del Sur.

The task force indicated in the complaint that Bautista, a certain
Payat Rellon and three unidentified bodyguards, could be responsible
for the killings.

Caro said intelligence reports showed Bautista, who has denied the
charges in media interviews, is no longer in Davao del Sur. (Walter I.
Balane / MindaNews)

About mindanaw

A Journalist from Mindanao

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