MANILA, Philippines – Don't forget he leads the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr on Friday, January 11, said President Benigno Aquino III doesn't need to apply for an exemption from the election gun ban. He is AFP's commander-in-chief, after all, Brillantes said. He explained that this is a "given" so Aquino was excluded from Comelec Resolution No. 9561, which tackled the gun ban.
The ban takes effect Sunday, January 13. The senatorial and local elections will be held on May 13.
"As the highest official of the land, it is given that he is exempted," explained Brillantes, an Aquino appointee.
Aquino, a gun enthusiast, applied for an exemption for his revolver on Thursday, January 10. But the person who heads the gun ban committee, Comelec Commissioner Elias Yusoph, told ABS-CBN News on Thursday that the gun is not for military purposes.
In an interview with ABS-CBN, Yusoph explained: "That's (for) being an enthusiast, yes... I think he's using (it) in practical shooting."
Comelec Resolution No. 9561 clearly prohibits anyone – except for at least 38 groups – from carrying a gun during the election period. The resolution, however, exempts commissioned officers, non-commissioned officers, and enlisted personnel of the AFP.
The Comelec, however, would spare Aquino's Presidential Security Group (PSG) from the gun ban if it applies for an exemption.
Aquino: No to total ban
Recent shooting incidents, which led to a 7-year-old's death, have revived calls for a total gun ban in the Philippines, even outside the election period. (Watch more in the video below)
At stake is up to 1.6-M licensed firearms in the country, according to the PNP.
Aquino, however, has rejected calls for a total gun ban. "Magandang headline: total gun ban. Pero knee-jerk reaction," Aquino told reporters on Wednesday, January 9. (It's a nice headline: Total gun ban. But it's a knee-jerk reaction.)
(Below, watch Aquino in a shooting range, circa 2008)
The proposed total gun ban, even outside the election period, has gotten mixed reactions. – Rappler.com