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Gun ban violations reach 635

The Philippine National Police has recorded 635 violations of the election gun ban that has been in effect since January 13, including an employee of the Commission on Elections in ­Catbalogan City in Samar. The authorities said 569 of the 635 were civilians, 10 were government officials, 41 were security guards, 11 policemen and one Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit militiaman. The Comelec employee identified as 46-year-old Pedro Sugalan, a utility worker of the Comelec’s provincial office in Samar, who was arrested around 11 p.m. Wednesday evening after residents reported hearing gunfire from the Comelec provincial office. Policemen who were dispatched to the area arrested Sugalan and seized one caliber .25 pistol marked Phoenix Arms Ontario model HP25 bearing serial number 4163916 with firearm license number 117362212282750 with one magazine loaded with 6 bullets; one inside holster and 2 fired cartridge of .25 caliber. Eastern Visayas regional police director Chief Superintendent Elmer Soria said Sugalan was charged with violating the election gun ban, but was released after paying bail of P12,000. “We have to enforce the law without favor even if the violator is connected with the office mandating us to implement such rule,” Soria said. Sugalan’s case was the third reported in Calbayog since the gunban came into effect on Jan. 13. Soria said former barangay chairman Antonio Bantad Sr. and son were arrested after grenades were discovered inside their homes. Bantad is the former chairman of Barangay Danao in the Tinambacan district of the said city while his son is an incumbent village councilor, Soria said. “These police operations are part of our effort in ensuring secure and fair elections in Samar province which was earlier listed as an election priority area,” Soria added. Earlier this month, an army man was also arrested for violating the poll gun ban in Samar. A miner was also arrested on February 5 for transporting 150 sticks of dynamite with a permit. Private miner Donato Bincola, 40, was nabbed by the security guards of Benguet Corporation who also seized the 150 dynamites that measured around 12 inches long each, the police said. Under Section 32 of RA 7166, during the election period, no person shall bear, carry or transport firearms or other deadly weapons in public places, including any building, street, park, private vehicle or public conveyance, even if licensed to possess or carry the same, unless authorized in writing by the Commission on Elections. The issuance of firearms licenses shall be suspended during the election period. The gun ban will last until June 12. During the ban, permits to carry firearms outside residences are suspended. Only law enforcers in uniform and on duty are allowed to carry firearms outside their homes during the ban.
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