THE election period officially starts today.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is gearing up to implement the gun ban and the recall of security personnel detailed to all candidates.

Comelec Provincial Election Supervisor Lionel Marco Castillano will meet with Cebu Provincial Police Office Chief Jesus Gacquing to iron out the details of the gun ban, which will start at midnight today.

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Checkpoints will have to be set up to enforce the ban, which will stay in effect until June 9.

Castillano, though, would not comment on whether there was basis for Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña to question the gun ban, saying that it is a legal matter that the regional office can answer.

Comelec’s Resolution 8714 states: “During the election period, no person shall bear, carry or transport firearms or other deadly weapons in public places, including any building, street, park, private vehicle or public conveyance, even if licensed to possess or carry the same, unless authorized in writing by the Commission. The issuance of firearms licenses shall be suspended during the election period.”

Only members of the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), other law enforcement agencies and security guards are exempted from carrying guns and only if they are in complete uniform.

Among the other prohibitions during the election period as stated under Comelec Resolution 8646 is altering the territory of a precinct or creating a new one.

With poll automation, precincts are established in groups called clusters, composed of not more than seven precincts and not more than 1,000 voters. One cluster is entitled to one precinct count optical scan (Pcos) machine.

There will be no more suspension of elective local officials and local government units can no longer transfer officers and employees.

Also barred is the “use of security personnel or bodyguards by candidates, whether or not such bodyguards are regular members of the AFP or other law enforcement agency.”

Castillano advised candidates who believe their lives are in danger: “Get an exemption from the Comelec.”

It is the PNP that implements the pullout of security personnel, though. If there is basis to provide a candidate with security detail, there are conditions and restrictions set by the Comelec. (JGA)