UP TO yesterday, when my attention was called by a Facebook friend, I was not fully aware of the extent of the coverage of the election gun ban.

A former high school classmate, Datu Perong Castro, messaged earlier that he received his LTOPF (license to own and possess firearms) and his PTC (permit to carry) just before New Year.

Unfortunately, with election gun ban going into effect starting January 10, he will now have to leave his firearms at home.

I jokingly told Datu Perong to own an air rifle or an air pistol, instead. That should solve his problem.

A response from another FB friend, Owie Peñaflor, was immediate.

Owie interjected: "But aren't air guns also included in the Comelec gun ban?"

Owie's response was certainly news to me so I decided to do an immediate fact check.

Owie was correct.

In fact, the matter has already been decided by the Supreme Court in a certiorari case filed before it in 2010.

Lawyer Reynante Orceo, founder of Easternbloc Airsoft Philippines, asked the Supreme Court to declare as unconstitutional a provision in Comelec Resolution No. 8714, which bans all persons from carrying firearms and deadly weapons in public places including public buildings, streets, parks and private vehicles.

The petitioner questioned the inclusion of airsoft guns in the definition of firearms.

He contended that the prevailing law punishing illegal possession of firearms did not mention airsoft guns and their replica in classifying different firearms.

The SC, through Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta ruled:

"The inclusion of airsoft guns and airguns in the term firearms in Resolution No. 8714 for purposes of the gun ban during the election period is a reasonable restriction, the objective of which is to ensure the holding of free, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible elections."

In a separate concurring opinion, Associate Justice Arturo Brion, said:

The term "firearms" as used herein also includes air rifles and air pistols not classified as toys under the provisions of Executive Order No. 712 dated 28 July 1981.

So there you have it.

Pagsinabi ng referee, tapos!

What about the ban on premature campaigning?

A Supreme Court decision, dated 2009, has ruled that premature campaign is no longer as an election offense.

The Automated Election Law effectively removed the rule on premature campaigning and allowed candidates to campaign ahead of the prescribed period under the Omnibus Election Code.

Election story

One of my favorite election stories supposedly happened during the first national election post Edsa.

At that time, 24 senators were being elected. Senatorial candidates drew lots to determine their order of speaking onstage. It was simply tough luck for the candidate who drew No. 24.

As expected, the town plaza, where the miting the avance was held, was jam packed at the start. But the crowd also progressively dwindled as each candidate left with his own entourage or "hakot" after his turn to speak.

It was past midnight when Candidate 24 spoke. Believe it or not, he was left with an audience of 3.

Undeterred, Candidate 24 still delivered an impassioned plea for their support. At the end, he thanked his audience. Out of curiosity, he asked why they patiently waited.

One of them responded: "Senador, kami ho yung may ari ng sound system!"

Postscript: Candidate 24 landed among the top 12.

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