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Hight Court upholds election ban rules

By Julius N. Leonen

The Supreme Court (SC) declared as constitutional the election gun ban rules imposed by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) after it junked a petition seeking a temporary restraining order against it.
In a 22-page decision penned by Associate Justice Benjamin Caguioa, the SC deemed as valid and constitutional the Comelec’s rules and regulations on carrying deadly firearms and employing armed bodyguards during the election period.
The election period for the May 2016 National and Local Elections was scheduled on January 10, 2016 up to June 8, 2016, 120 days before and 30 days after the election day.
The Comelec, on November 13, 2015, issued a resolution imposing the rules and regulations on the ban against carrying firearms during the election period.
In response, the Philippine Association of Detective and Protective Agency Operators (PADPAO) Region 7 Chapter Inc. filed a petition for certiorari with prohibition with prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction/temporary restraining order against the Comelec.
But the High Court denied this, effectively affirming Section 2 (e), Rule III of Comelec Resolution No. 10015 which states that private security services providers must apply for clearance to let their employees carry firearms.
In its petition, PADPAO disputed the rule’s validity, asserting the Comelec does not have any authority to impose rules on the bearing, carrying or transporting of firearms by private security agencies.
Rule III states that members of licensed private security service providers under Republic No. Act 54873 or the Private Security Agency (PSA) Law, such as PADPAO, are granted authority to carry firearms provided they secure a clearance from the Comelec.
The group claimed private security firms do not have to seek Comelec clearance as RA 5487 already grants to them and their personnel authorization to carry firearms since they are necessary equipment to practice their profession.
PADPAO also claimed the Comelec 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.

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