MALINAO, Albay Mayor Avelino Ceriola was arrested by the Aviation Security Group at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2 for allegedly violating the election gun ban.

The incumbent mayor was about to board Philippine Airlines flight PR 277 bound for Legaspi City when he was nabbed.

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A radio report said that Ceriola was arrested for carrying a .45 caliber pistol and several ammunition and for presenting fake gun ban exemption documents signed by Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Lucentio Tagle.

Tagle is the chief of the Comelec Committee on the Ban on Firearms and Security Personnel.

Tagle, however, said the commission does not issue such exemption forms.

The Comelec official said the Philippine National Police (PNP) has already reported to them such proliferation of fake documents and has warned the public of such act. The forms are reportedly sold for P5,000.

Tagle showed reporters a sample of the fake permits that bear his signature.

“Nung araw nagiissue si Commissioner (Nicodemo) Ferrer. Yung din ang ginagamit nila, binago lang ang date at tinanggal yung pirma ni Ferrer at nilagay ang signature ko,” he explained.

He furthered that the commission is implementing a total gun ban but has exempted members of the PNP, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

“Talagang ipprosecute natin yan dahil maliwanag sa ating resolution na 8714 na its only the law enforcement agencies that can bear and carry firearms. Hindi namn kami nagiissue ng gun ban exemption kaya fake yan,” Tagle said.

Government officials who will be caught carrying firearms may face one year to six years of imprisonment and be disqualified from holding any public office.

Ceriola’s arrest, meanwhile, brings the number of gun ban violators to 1,390 since the gun ban was implemented last January.

Tagle said the PNP has arrested 40 partisan groups and confiscated their firearms as part of its vow to keep the May polls peaceful. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)