President Rodrigo Duterte said late Monday all members of police and military should be automatically exempted from the gun ban of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), saying the election period is not the time to impose restrictions on uniformed personnel.
Duterte said members of the police and the military would have difficulties in securing clearances as they would have no time to process these during the May 9 elections.
He said there are instances where some police were apprehended after they were off duty and were bound for home because their clearances did not cover their residences.
“Getting individual clearances from the Comelec is really a bad idea, because some policemen are assigned in an area different from where he… lives,” he said.
“Uniformed personnel are supposed to act according to their oath of office with or without an exemption from the gun ban, and do what is right and fulfill their duty,” he said.
He said that the law should automatically exempt police and military men from the gun ban.
“You know elections here are a heat game for some politicians. After the elections, there is still the possibility of violence before, during, and after a certain period. It’s not time to be imposing so many requirements,” he said.
Under Comelec Resolution 10728, the bearing, carrying, or transporting of firearms or deadly weapons outside of residence or place of business and in all public places is banned from Jan. 9 to June 8, 2022 during the election period.
Comelec Chairman Saidamen Pangarungan has the authority to grant gun ban exemptions for “urgent and meritorious cases” and place identified election areas of concern under Comelec control.
Pangarungan earlier clarified that Duterte already has an exemption as the commander in chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the agency already issued a general authority to carry firearms for the military and the police.
Meanwhile, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said it received the final source code for the May 9 national and local elections from the Comelec on Monday.
The poll body handed over to the BSP the final trusted build of the transmission router source code, which is needed to ensure the secure distribution of election results and other related data to different endpoints.
The source code was deposited in a high-security vault, as mandated by Republic Act No. 9369 or The Election Automation Law.
BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno, Comelec’s Pangarungan, and representatives from the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, and the media were present during the turnover.
“We share the Comelec’s strong commitment to upholding integrity and reinforcing public trust and confidence in the upcoming elections,” Diokno said during the event.
The source code was stored on a flash drive and kept in a secure metal box, similar to the initial batch deposited on Feb. 2.
The BSP had also kept in its vaults the election source codes from 2010, 2013, 2016 and 2019.
The Comelec on Monday said all vote counting machines (VCMs) that would be used in the May 9 national elections have already been distributed to local hubs.
Comelec Commissioner George Garcia said 100 percent of the 106,000 VCMs and another 1,000 VCMs for contingency have already been delivered on time for final testing and sealing of the VCMs to be held from May 2 to 7.
Pangarungan expressed confidence that the final testing and sealing of the VCMs will boost voter confidence.
He said the sealing and testing in San Juan City was “flawless.”
The Comelec previously urged the public, poll watchers, representatives of political parties, and other stakeholders to go to polling precincts nationwide to personally witness the testing of the VCMs.
A total of 65.8 million voters nationwide have been registered for the May 9 polls, the Comelec says.
The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) on Monday said it wants May 9 to 11 declared as holidays for government agencies to ensure power supply will be enough for the transmission of votes in the May 9 elections.
The NGCP said there would be enough power as long as no plant breaks down.