Soldiers of the Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade will assist the Philippine National Police in the conduct of random checkpoints in strategic areas of Negros Occidental starting January 13, with the start of the election period its commander Col. Oscar Lactao, said yesterday.
Lactao said he is inviting media representatives to observe the checkpoints of the Philippine Army and police personnel, to ensure that they are observing strictly the rules and regulations, prescribed by the Commission on Election.
Nobody will be spared in the enforcement of the COMELEC gun ban, including law enforcers and military personnel, who may be intercepted at the checkpoints, he said.
Effective January 13, all permits to carry firearms outside residence will also be suspended, Chief Supt. Agrimero Cruz, regional police director of Western Visayas, said, citing the Comelec guidelines for the gun ban.
Senior Supt. Milko Lirazan, officer-in-charge of the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office, said all policemen serving as security escorts of local chief executives will also be recalled.
Despite the “word war” between Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. and Vice-Governor Genaro Alvarez Jr., who is also running for governor in the May 13 elections, Lactao said he still foresees a peaceful election in Negros Occidental, as both are long-time friends.
The Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office arrested 85 persons for violation of the gun ban during the May 2010 elections, with 96 firearms recovered, while the Bacolod City Police Office arrested 47 violators, and confiscated 27 firearms, police records showed.
Those arrested for violation of the COMELEC gun ban, will face a much higher penalty of imprisonment, which is 12 to 20 years, compared to six to 12 years, meted on those apprehended on regular days, Lactao said.
Aside from the cancellation of the PTCFOR, Cruz said the mission orders, letter orders and even acknowledgement receipts issued by the PNP to allow the carrying of guns outside ones residence, have been suspended since December 3 last year. * GPB