THE ELECTION period officially starts today ushering in a total ban on firearms while seven towns in the province are identified by the Comelec among â€œwatchlist areasâ€ being closely monitored as possible election hot spots.
Intense political rivalries, along with its history of election-related violence in the past and the candidates involved, laid the basis for placing the towns of Buenavista, Clarin, Danao, Inabanga, Ubay, Pilar and Cortes under Comelec â€œwatchlistâ€, provincial election supervisor Atty. Eliseo Labaria bared in an interview with dyRDâ€™s â€œTagbilaran-by-Niteâ€.
Meanwhile, synchronized checkpoints in the entire province likewise commenced at early dawn today manned by police stations in all 47 towns and in Tagbilaran City to carry out the â€œgun banâ€ which includes prohibitions on bearing, carrying or transporting of explosives or other deadly weapons and the use of private armed bodyguards by candidates, according to Police Superintendent Ricky Delilis, spokesman of the Bohol Provincial Police Office (BPPO).
Labaria said that the seven election watchlist areas (EWA) has been determined by the Comelec provincial office and the Bohol PNP after assessing the partisan activities of a particular townâ€™s candidates, the crimes or incidents that have been considered politically-motivated and election-related in the past months, the presence of private armed groups of local politicians, and the proliferation of firearms in a certain town.
A town currently in the â€œwatchlistâ€ needs to be monitored before the political situation in the locality worsens which would then heighten its classification into an election hot spot. A hot spot is an area where there is a confluence of two or more of the criteria mentioned.
Delilis warned that possession of firearms or other deadly weapons during the election period carries the penalty of imprisonment, with no allowable bail. He said that the Bohol-PNP will continuously establish strategic checkpoints in the entire duration of the 120-day election period, starting today, December 10 until June 8, 2016.
Labaria said that Comelec Resolution 10015 sets out the rules and regulations of the gun ban and the availment or engagement of services of security personnel or bodyguards during the election period.
The gun ban also suspends the issuance of firearms licenses during the election period. Only members of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and other law enforcement agencies deputized by the commission are exempted from this ban provided they are in uniform and on duty.
Those seeking exemptions must apply for a certificate of authority from the Comelec’s committee on the ban on firearms and security personnel.