FOURTEEN individuals in Central Visayas have submitted applications for the engagement of security personnel to the Commission on Elections and the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7.

Comelec 7 Director Ray Rene Buac declined to release the names of those who have applied for security escorts for now, saying he will divulge these when he has authority to do so.

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While he said most of the applicants are politicians, there are at least two businessmen and a government officer who applied for security detail.

The Comelec and the PNP officers who will compose the Regional Joint Security Control Center (RJSCC) will meet today to act on the applications.

While the applications for permanent security escorts will have to be approved by the Committee on the Ban on Firearms and Security Personnel (CBFSP) in Manila, the RJSCC can grant a 30-day temporary security detail while waiting for the approval of their security escorts.

The temporary detail assigned to the applicant will still be limited to two police personnel.

Buac said that if the national committee disapproves the application, the temporary detail will be pulled out even before the 30 days are up.

If the committee fails to act on it by the time the 30 days are over, Buac said they will still pull out the temporary security detail.

PRO 7 Director Lani-o Nerez said that since the RJSCC still has to meet regarding the applications, there are no individuals who have security details assigned to them as of yesterday, including local officials.

He reiterated that all security escorts were recalled last Sunday.

Capitol consultant Rory Jon Sepulveda said they will seek the clearance or permit for the police escorts of Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia.

He said that personally, Garcia feels more comfortable without the security escorts but Sepulveda believes that it is not something for herself to decide alone.

The security of the governor must not be compromised especially that she had declared an all-out war against insurgents.

He refused to divulge the actual number of Garcia’s police escorts, saying that revealing them can affect their security tactic.

Meanwhile, Nerez said the RJSCC Secretariat is tasked to accept applications for security escorts. The secretariat of the RJSCC is at the Regional Operations and Plans Division of the PRO 7.

Their office can be found beside the ROPD in the Regional Election Monitoring Action Center (Remac).

To avail of security escorts, one has to get an application form where a list of requirements are enumerated.

They also have to pay a non-refundable P5,000 processing fee, to be deposited at the Comelec account with the Land Bank of the Philippines. The receipt will be attached to the application form.

The applicant will also be asked for the names of their preferred security officers.

Buac said that they are supposed to refer the applications with the threat assessments to the CBFSP in five days. However, he said they will ask for one week because the RJSCC only meets once a week.

The rules on the gun ban and security escorts were discussed in a conference at the PRO 7 yesterday morning.

Representatives from other law enforcement agencies and private security agencies were able to make clarifications about the carrying of firearms during the election period. Some of them said they did not have prescribed uniforms while others said they had more than one set of prescribed uniforms.

Buac and Nerez answered their questions. While they noted some inconveniences that come with the gun ban, Buac appealed for understanding.

“This concerns the safety of all officers, including those of us who carry firearms. We should open ourselves to cooperate with this because this is for the benefit of the Filipino nation,” Buac said.

Buac also made clarifications about Comelec checkpoints.

Buac said Comelec checkpoints are not to be confused with other checkpoints that are conducted by the police in their anti-criminality campaigns.

The rules of the Comelec checkpoint are that officers concerned can only search in plain view, unless the nozzle of a firearm is visible from under a chair or a passenger’s waist seems to be bulging with a firearm.

Only then can officers conduct a body or vehicle search.

Since the PNP is deputized by the Comelec, Buac said they need not have a representative from the agency accompany them during the checkpoint. However, they will have to inform the election officer of the location of the checkpoint.