Comelec conducts gun ban briefing for Ilocos Norte candidates

LAOAG CITY, Jan 22 (PIA) — The Commission on Election (Comelec) together with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) conducted a briefing on the gun ban, January 17, at the Ilocos Norte provincial capitol.

The briefing was attended by local politicians including Gov. Imee Marcos and the different town mayors of the province.

Comelec said the briefing aimed to orient local officials on the guidelines regarding election gun ban and the ruling on police security escorts this coming election.

The briefing gave way for the town mayors, headed by League of Municipal Mayors (LMP) president Bonifacio Clemente of Paoay town, to air their concerns about the Comelec ruling on police security escorts.

In Ilocos Norte, only three politicians were allowed by Comelec to have at most two police security escorts. These are Gov. Imee Marcos, Cong. Imelda Marcos, and Cong. Rodolfo Fariñas.

However, the town mayors are appealing for Comelec to reconsider their ruling and that mayors should also be given at least one police escort.

Atty. Alipio Castillo, Comelec election officer for Ilocos Norte, said the mayors through the LMP should make a resolution requesting the Comelec for police security escorts.

However, Castillo suggested that the appeal should be made, not by the LMP Ilocos Norte chapter alone, but the LMP national chapter. He said the concern of Comelec is not in Ilocos Norte only but the entire country.

Meanwhile, Gov. Imee Marcos is worried that the Comelec ruling on police security escorts will “force people to find ways to disobey the rule indirectly.”

She said some candidates might be forced to employ civilian securities, especially those candidates with serious death threats.

“Ang problema is Ilocos Norte has been a very peaceful province, pero hindi maipagkakaila na nagkaroon na tayo ng history ng high profile political assassination, so kinakailangan talaga kung pulitiko ka dapat may (police) security ka,” (The problem is Ilocos Norte has been a peaceful province but it can not be denied that we had already a history of high profile political assassination, so if you are a politician there is really a need to have a police security) said Marcos.

Castillo explained that the purpose why police security escorts were recalled from politicians is, Comelec needs additional police force to ensure peace and order during the 2013 elections.

But Governor Marcos said the lives of the candidates are important too. “Hindi ako sang-ayon na mas mahalaga ang PCOS machines sa buhay ng tao (I do not agree that PCOS machines are more important than lives of people),” she said.

The governor still hopes that the Comelec, PNP and the Department of Interior and Local Government will reconsider their ruling.

On the other hand, Sr. Supt. Gerardo Ratuita, OIC Ilocos Norte PNP provincial director, reminded the mayors that they can, however, maintain private security escorts as long as these mayors will file a request for private security escorts at the Comelec office. (ANL/APT-PIA 1, Ilocos Norte)

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