THE 150-day election period will already begin on January 10 and with it comes three implications as discussed by Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Rene Sarmiento.

Starting on Sunday, the prohibition on carrying of firearms takes effect.

Suspension of elective officials is also prohibited as well as the transfer of officers and employees of the civil service.

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“Even though a person has the license to possess firearms, that is still prohibited whether it may be in parks, boulevards, and even in private cars or public. Lahat po yan ay bawal,” clarified Sarmiento.

Those who will be caught violating these provisions will face election offenses pursuant to the Omnibus Election Code.

Sarmiento added that toy guns and replicas are included in the gun ban.

“Even though it's just a replica, others may still get scared because of it,” said the commissioner.

The gun ban implementation is stricter this 2010 to minimize election violence. The poll body earlier said that no exemptions will be allowed in the ban.

Sarmiento said the election-related violence, as discussed in its recent command conference with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), is caused by partisan armies.

Police forces have already identified 68 partisan groups -- 43 of which are verified.

“According to the PNP, this is one big factor for the commission of violence in the Philippines. This will have implications in the forthcoming elections... This should be disbanded,” said Sarmiento.

The Comelec believes election violence will be minimized with the help of the new automation system since the counting will be much faster compared to previous manual elections.

Election violence may be defined as an unfortunate event caused by an intense political rivalry like the case of the Ampatuans and the Mangudadatus in Maguindanao.

As of Thursday, six regions are listed under the election watchlist areas (EWAS) or election hotspots including Region 13, 12, 9, 8, National Capital Region (NCR) and the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (Armm).(Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)