What are not allowed when election period starts January 10

While the law allows Comelec to exempt various individuals from the ban, Comelec limited the grant of exemptions to select government officials and law enforcers. The full list of exempted individuals is in Rule III, Section 1 of Comelec Resolution Number 10015. 

It must be noted that this year, Comelec once again totally disallows private individuals from applying for an exemption. The exceptions are cashiers, disbursing officers, and members of private security service providers, but under specific conditions.

If you are a private individual, say a politician not falling in the exempted list, you cannot personally apply for a gun ban exemption regardless of how eminent the threat in your life is. Your option is to rather employ a private security service, which under the rules is the one that should seek a gun ban exemption.

What to expect at checkpoints

To ensure compliance with the gun ban, the Comelec conducts checkpoints in all cities and municipalities around the country. Comelec Resolution Number 10029 provides for the full guidance for its conduct, however here are some of the important points that everyone should be aware of:

c. Upon approach to any Comelec checkpoint, the team manning it must require the motorist/s to slow down and courteously request to dim the headlights and turn on cabin lights. In a checkpoint inquiry, the occupants cannot be compelled to step out of the vehicle.

d. Only visual search is required. The search which is normally permissible is limited to visual search where the officer simply looks into the vehicle and flashes a light therein without the car’s door.

e. No person may be subjected to a physical or body search in the absence of any reasonable ground to believe that a person has just committed, is about to commit or is committing a crime.

f. The public is not obliged to open the glove compartment, trunk or bags. The personnel manning the checkpoint cannot compel the motorist to open the trunk or glove compartment of the car or any package contained therein.

g. Ordinary/routine questions maybe asked with courtesy. Checkpoint may involve only a brief detention of travelers during which the vehicle’s occupants are required to answer brief question or two.”

Checkpoints are not just for guns

It is important to note that while the checkpoint is primarily for firearms, other prohibited items – such as illegal drugs, endangered flora and fauna, among others – may also be legally seized so long as they are discovered under the same condition and also on “plain view.”

Plain view means that it is immediately apparent to the officer that the item he observes may be evidence of a crime, contraband, or otherwise subject to seizure. Example is when upon flashing of light on your window, he sees packets of shabu laying on your car seat. 

While nothing could possibly go wrong with the above guidelines, the situation on the ground could be entirely different. Checkpoints can go unnecessarily intrusive as we have observed in the past, and officers conducting them may even do the exact opposite of the above guidelines.

Thus, it is very important for the public to familiarize themselves with the above guidelines to know not only the limitation of a Comelec checkpoint, but their rights under those circumstances.

Should something go wrong or if you feel suspicious, start documenting inconspicuously, either in photo or video, the people conducting the search and the very search itself. Take note of the names and faces of the officers involve for reporting purposes later on. In other words, be vigilant! – Rappler.com 

Emil Marañon is an election lawyer who served as chief of staff of recently retired Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. He is currently studying Human Rights, Conflict and Justice at SOAS, University of London, as a Chevening scholar.  

 Gun image from Shutterstock