Manila: President Benigno Aquino was allowed to carry two guns as the Commission on Elections (Comelec) initiated a nationwide gun ban ahead of the local and congressional elections in May this year, sources said.
Since the commander in chief of the Armed Forces (AFP) and the head of the Philippine National Police (PNP) were exempted from gun ban which began on Sunday, so is the president of the country, said Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes.
It was PNP chief, Director General Alan Purisima who requested for the request of President Aquino, Brillantes said.
Earlier, Brillantes said there was no need for Aquino to request for exemption from Comelec’s gun ban.
Comelec Commission Elias Yusoph said that Aquino wanted exemption from Comelec’s gun ban to be able to carry his pistol/glock caliber .40 and HPRFL/SIGSR caliber 666, a long firearm. Aquino is a target shooter. Comelec’s gun ban would end June 13.
Aquino’s request was made despite ongoing debate for a total gun ban, strict regulation on gun ownership, due to a series of shooting that killed two during New Year’s celebration; seven others, during a shooting rampage by a drug addict in suburban Cavite; and 13 passengers in two sports utility vehicles were killed at two check points in Atimonan, Quezon, southern Luzon on January 6.
The gun ban is meant to stop clashes between political families, many of which have their respective private armies while in power.
Meanwhile, Comelec also called for the establishment of random checkpoints nationwide as the total gun ban was enforced. Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said.
Twenty-four hours after gun ban was enforced, no arrests were made. Also banned were explosives, raw materials for explosives, including transportation of arms. Conviction for carrying an unlicensed firearm is punishable by up to six years in prison.
About 1.2 million Filipinos have registered firearms. There are about 600,000 loose firearms, and black market sales of firearms proliferate.