CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- Police Regional Office 3 (PRO3) reported that 34 firearms had been confiscated by its field officers in Central Luzon since the nationwide gun ban implementation started.

Information Officer Superintendent Baltazar Mamaril Jr. told Sun.Star Pampanga that of the firearms confiscated, nine were high-powered and 25 were low-powered guns. There was also one bladed weapon and one grenade.

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The total gun ban was implemented in preparation of the coming May elections. It was ordered to ensure the peaceful conduct of elections and to prevent lawless elements and political rivals from resorting to violence even before the conduct of the actual polls.

Total gun ban only allows authorized personnel to bring their issued firearms, and even police and military men are required to be in proper uniforms when they are supposed to carry, with appropriate documents at hand.

Also, 35 persons were arrested and 15 cases were filed in court for illegal possession of firearms in relation to the Omnibus Election Code.

"The breakdown of confiscation includes Bataan with 10 firearms, one bladed weapon and one grenade; Bulacan with 11 firearms; Nueva Ecija with 11 firearms; Pampanga with one firearm; and Tarlac with one firearm. All of these were brought about by the efforts of PNP (Philippine National Police) Central Luzon Regional Director Leon Nilo Dela Cruz and our 144 checkpoints in Central Luzon manned by our local police forces," Mamaril said.

Of the 35 apprehensions, Mamaril said one was a policeman, another was a member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), another a government official, and 32 were civilians. Most were apprehended during the conduct of checkpoints while others were apprehended during conduct of official anti-crime operations.

The police have not yet named the government official and the policeman.

Mamaril, however, said appropriate criminal charges are now being prepared, with 15 people already facing charges at the appropriate courts.

Under Commission on Elections Resolution 8714, only bonafide police and military personnel clad in proper uniforms are exempted from the nationwide gun ban.

Violation of the gun ban is an election offense that entails a punishment of six months to one year imprisonment. A national television flash report, however, said the arrested violators would not be immediately jailed as they would still undergo proper investigation.