#AnimatED: Enforcing the gun ban
While candidates for national posts have been making the rounds in the past months, wooing voters in various guises, election season actually begins January 10 .
(For a complete election calendar, read the Commission on Elections resolution here.)
No, they are not yet allowed to campaign – that will start on February 9 for president, vice-president, senator and party-list groups – but they are obliged to strictly keep to the confines of rules set by the Comelec. These also apply to bodyguards, aides, supporters of candidates, political parties, and the general public.
Foremost of these is a ban on bearing firearms outside one’s home and office. Note that the Comelec specified that a “motor vehicle, water or aircraft” is, by all means, not considered residence or place of business.
In its 25-page resolution, the Comelec spells out, in detail, all kinds of gun-related prohibitions, including suspension of permits to carry firearms outside residences, use of bodyguards by candidates, and transport of explosives and deadly weapons, “including its spare parts and components.”
There are dozens of exemptions, from the president to cabinet secretaries down to agencies whose job is to keep peace, law and order such as the Philippine National Police (PNP). It appears that there is a science to this gun ban: each of these exempted officials has a matching form to fill up to seek authority to carry firearms.
But the essence is plain as day: guns lead to killings and violate elections, where an overwhelming majority of Filipinos always turn up to vote. High participation in elections seems to be a mark of Philippine democracy.
Data tend to show that local elections (barangay and congressional levels) experience more violence than national contests. Thus, every election year, the PNP identifies “hotspots,” places where killings spike during the election races.
The roots of poll violence, however, lie beyond having firearms – licensed or not – grenades, knives and other deadly weapons. They are tied to the loose regulation of guns, weak law enforcement and the stubborn character of our society, where political dynasties thrive, intense clan rivalries result in violent conflict, insurgencies remain unresolved, and political parties are feeble.
A 2012 study on Philippine “electoral security” by the United States Agency for International Development said that election-related violence can be reduced by, among others, making political parties “a viable as well as sustainable bulwark against political dynasties.”
Also, a more open political culture, one that gives opportunities to non-elites and non-dynasty members to run for public office, will be a step toward killing election violence.
Meantime, the public should be vigilant and watch out for violations of the firearms ban. After all, the digital age, a boost to democracy, has given us the tools to expose flagrant infractions. – Rappler.com