ILIGAN CITY -- The 43rd Infantry Battalion (IB) of the Philippine Army has started implementing and intensifying the gun ban since Sunday in every checkpoint in this city.
The implementation is carried out despite the absence of orders from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) office in Iligan City, said Colonel Juvy Max Uy, 43rd IB commander.
"The Comelec has yet to call a security coordination meeting. But even before the start of gun ban implementation, we have been implementing the mandate in accordance with the law to maintain peace and order within our area of responsibility," the military official said.
Prior to the gun ban implementation Sunday, Uy said the military noticed that politicians from the Lanao areas were accompanied by "overwhelming security backup" as they enter Iligan City.
"We will not hesitate to hold any person or group of persons bringing firearms without proper identity and authority," he said. "This will include military and police from other places who may be having a leave or on break."
Lawyer Anna Liza Barredo, Iligan City Comelec supervisor, said a security command center will be established at Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Camp Tomas Cabili in Barangay Tipanoy to ensure coordination among security forces in implementing the gun ban.
"We already had a command conference in Cagayan de Oro City last Friday, but there is a need to meet the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and PNP commanders for a conference in Iligan City to fine-tune the implementation of guidelines of the gun ban," said Barredo said.
The AFP and PNP were directed earlier to dismantle private armies nationwide before the May elections following the Ampatuan, Maguindanao massacre, which killed 57 civilians, including 31 journalists. (Richel V. Umel)