By John Roson | Daily Tribune
The National Police has started implementing measures, including a nationwide gun ban, to ensure security in the ongoing filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) for the upcoming national elections.
Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, PNP chief, said the gun ban took effect at 12 a.m. Friday, with all permits to carry firearms outside residence (PTCFOR) across the country suspended.
The ban will be implemented until 7 a.m. on 9 October, a day after the eight-day period of filing of COCs ends.
Only members of the PNP, AFP, and other law enforcement agencies who are performing official duty and wearing agency-prescribed uniforms will be allowed to carry firearms, Eleazar noted.
Aside from the gun ban, police operations will be aggressively conducted against loose firearms and members of partisan armed groups, he said.
Earlier, Eleazar ordered other security measures like intelligence-gathering, monitoring, and background check of areas with a history of election violence.
On Thursday, the PNP held simulation exercises as well as risk and threat assessment for the filing of COCS, in Camp Crame.
The drills showed lawmen respond to a simulated shooting incident, bomb threat, altercation of supporters, fire incident, influx of political supporters during the filing of COCs, unattended baggage, reported IEDs, bombing, ambuscade, and assassination.
Eleazar also tasked the PNP Intelligence Group and other concerned police offices and units to conduct an extensive background check against wanted personalities who have been involved in robbery and kidnapping incidents.
The move is aimed at preventing political aspirants from using such individuals to raise funds for the coming elections, he said.
“Ito ay upang tiyakin na hindi na makakaporma ang mga ito sa pagsasagawa ng mga iligal na gawain dahil hindi natin inaalis ang posibilidad na maaari silang gamitin para sa fund-raising ng mga tiwaling kandidato,” said Eleazar.
He said the force is also coordinating with the Bureau of Corrections for heightened measures, so as to prevent convicted leaders and members of kidnapping syndicates and robbery groups from resuming lawless acts, possibly under politicians.
Meanwhile, Eleazar appealed to politicians and their supporters to refrain from engaging in a fiesta-like atmosphere during the filing of COCs.
“Umaapela tayo sa mga kandidato at kanilang mga taga-suporta na kumilos nang naaayon sa panahon. Kung noon ay hinahayaan natin ang mala-piyestang mga gawain sa filing ng Certificate of Candidacy, hindi natin papayagan ito ngayon dahil nasa gitna tayo ng pandemya,” he said.
“We expect the candidates themselves to take their own measures to prevent this from happening for everybody’s protection,” Eleazar added.
He reminded police officers who will secure COC filing areas that the Commission on Elections has set a limit to how many people can accompany a candidate.
Police personnel should strictly enforce that guideline to prevent the filing of COCs from becoming a super-spreader event of COVID-19, Eleazar said.
The filing of COCs for president, vice president, senator, and partylist representative is being held at the Sofitel Garden Tent in Pasay City while those for local positions are taking place at COMELEC offices in different cities and municipalities.