THE Supreme Court has affirmed the constitutionality of a resolution issued by the Commission on Elections requiring private security personnel and bodyguards to secure authority from the Comelec to possess and carry firearms during the implementation of the election gun ban period in 2016.
In an en banc decision, the SC, through Associate Justice Benjamin Caguioa, denied for lack of merit the petition filed by Philippine Association of Detective and Protective Agency Operators (PADPAO)-Region 7 Chapter seeking to declare as unconstitutional Section 2(e), Rule III of Comelec Resolution No. 10015.
The questioned portion provided for the rules and regulations on the ban on bearing, carrying or transporting of firearms and other deadly weapons and the employment, availment or engagement of the services of security personnel or bodyguards during the election period, more commonly referred to as the “gun ban.”
In particular, Section 2 (e) provides for the documentary requirements for the application for authority to possess and carry firearms and deadly weapons during election period.
It covers private security service providers, which include private security agencies.
Petitioner PADPAO, an association of licensed security agencies and company security forces in Region 7 under Republic Act No. 54873 or the Private Security Agency Law, assailed the validity of Section 2(e) insofar as its application to PSAs is concerned.
The group argued the Comelec does not have any authority to promulgate rules regarding the bearing, carrying, or transporting of firearms by PSAs.
It insisted that PSAs should not be required to secure authority from the Comelec as RA 5487 already grants to PSAs and their security, guards, watchmen, detectives, and security personnel the authority to possess, bear, carry, and transport firearms, being necessary equipment for the conduct of its business and practice of its personnel’s profession.
The private security agencies stressed the resolution violated the constitutional tenets of equal protection of laws and non-impairment of obligations of contracts as it impairs the contracts of its member PSAs with their respective clients.
The petitioner said the poll body contradicted itself in issuing the said resolution.
It noted that while Section 1, Rule III of Resolution No. 10015 provides that PSSPs or PSAs may bear, carry or transport firearms or deadly weapons, immediately thereafter, Section 2 mandates that they must apply for said authority.