NOT all Cebu City judges are keen about requesting the Supreme Court (SC) to exempt them from the election gun ban, which starts tomorrow.
Palace of Justice spokesperson Judge Gabriel Ingles said that personally, he finds it not really necessary for him to ask the High Tribunal for an exemption from the gun ban and that he be allowed to carry his service firearm during the election period.
Ingles, presiding judge of the Regional Trial Court Branch 58, said they still have to attend to their obligations during the election period.
But the judge, who owns a 9mm pistol, said he sometimes leaves his service firearm in his house when he attends to his official duties.
Ingles said that other judges who have “existing threats” to their lives might as well request to be exempted from the gun ban.
But Judges Alma Singco and Ester Veloso, in separate interviews, said they don’t even have service firearms at all.
Meanwhile, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña said mayors are on duty 24 hours a day and have to be around in every crisis situation, so he would rather be armed.
That is why he has asked for an exemption from the gun ban that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will start implementing tomorrow.
“The mayor is always on duty. If there is a crisis, I have to be there. I will go there armed or unarmed? I prefer to be armed,” he said.
He said somebody has already applied for him to be granted the exemption, and added that legal questions against the ban are handled by lawyers of the City.
“I don’t feel threatened. It’s just that I can apply for it so I will be applying,” the mayor said.
He said that while he has not received any death threats recently, there were reports that should be a cause for alarm.
“But I don’t get affected. I don’t overreact,” the mayor said.
Asked if he felt that Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA) supreme master Ruben Ecleo Jr. is still a threat, the mayor said anybody can be a danger to
“It doesn’t have to be Ecleo. It can be anybody. I ran after criminals in the city without mercy,” Osmeña.
He has issued harsh words against Ecleo, accused of killing his wife, and even blamed the former Dinagat, Surigao mayor of masterminding the murder of Arbet Sta. Ana Yongco, who was the lawyer of the Bacolod family against Ecleo.
For his part, Provincial Election Supervisor lawyer Marco Lionel Castillano said the Supreme Court can request the Comelec to exempt judges and prosecutors from the election gun ban.
If granted, the Comelec en banc would amend its earlier resolution on the election gun ban and exempt the members of the judiciary from the policy.
Castillano sees no reason for the Comelec to refuse the judges’ plea. In previous elections, he said the Comelec allowed judges to file their request to be exempted from the gun ban.
During the election gun ban from Jan. 10 to June 10, no one, except state forces and private security personnel in official uniform, will be allowed to carry firearms.
All gun-wielding individuals in civilian attire will be arrested on the spot, according to the police.
The PNP and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) had signed a joint letter directive stipulating the policies, guidelines and procedures of law enforcement operations during the elections.
The joint PNP-AFP order established Joint Security Control Centers in national, regional, provincial, city and municipal levels.