NorMin launches joint checkpoints

By : Mindanao Today/06:37:01am 01/11/2022


A police officer checks motorists to ensure that they are complying with election-related laws and that they follow minimum public health standards in a checkpoint the PNP has set up in Cagayan de Oro ahead of the local and national elections Sunday, Jan. 9. (Photo courtesy of the police regional office 10)

By Uriel Quilinguing
Contributing Editor

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY - Officials of the Commission on Elections, Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines witnessed the simultaneous launch of joint checkpoint operations in Northern Mindanao region shortly past midnight Sunday, Jan. 9, this year.

The setting up of 98 PNP-Comelec-AFP checkpoints in Northern Mindanao signaled the start of the 150-day electoral period for the May 9, 2022 national and local polls and the enforcement of a nationwide gun ban.

These checkpoints undertake weapons check and other anti-criminality and police security operations – against loose firearms, deadly weapons, unauthorized security personnel, private armed groups, criminal elements and wanted persons.

In Cagayan de Oro, Brig. Gen. Benjamin Acorda, PNP-10 regional director, commander-in-charge Brig. Gen. Ferdinand Barandon of the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division, lawyer Francisco Pobe, newly-assumed Comelec-10 regional election director, and Col. Aaron M. Mandia, Cagayan de Oro City Police Office director, graced the Comelec checkpoint kick-off operations at Barangay Gusa (near Robinsons Supermarket), this city.

Last Thursday, Jan. 7, during the opening of a two-day competitions which the Northern Mindanao Practical Shooting Association organized at Bulua Firing Range, Acorda appealed to owners of “unrenewed firearms” to surrender these for safekeeping at the nearest police stations or offices.

He also urged gun owners to avail of the license to own and possess firearm (LTOPF) caravan during the shootfest.

As of Dec. 31, 2021, records from the PNP 10 Regional Civil Security Unit (RCSU) show some 2,774 firearms (small arms and light weapons) have already been turned over for safekeeping: Bukidnon 734; Misamis Occidental 540; Cagayan de Oro 478; Lanao del Norte 339; Misamis Oriental 266; and Camiguin 87. Other than these, the RCSU tallied 19,713 unrenewed firearms in Northern Mindanao, as of Nov. 30, 2021.

Lt. Col. Michelle S. Olaivar, PNP-10 spokesperson, during the “Talakayan sa PIA” forum at SM Uptown mall in Cagayan de Oro on Wednesday, Jan. 6, disclosed that the number of unrenewed firearms used to be over 21,000.

Olaivar said that for the entire 2021 PNP-10 conducted 1,384 “campaign against loose firearm” operations and these resulted to the seizure of 808 firearms, consisting of 634 small arms and 174 light weapons.

These region-wide operations led to the arrests of 383 persons and the filing of 359 cases in court.

The setting up of Comelec checkpoints came after the reactivation of the Regional Joint Security Command Center at Camp Edilberto Evangelista, the headquarters of the 4th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army Wednesday, Jan. 6.

“There will be (at least) one Comelec checkpoint in every province, city and municipality,” said lawyer Milber A. Alinas, the provincial election officer of Misamis Occidental whose jurisdiction consists of three cities (Oroquieta, Ozamiz, and Tangub) and 14 municipalities.

Alinas said Comelec checkpoints, which are primarily for security and safety concerns for the forthcoming regular elections, will be manned by police and military personnel, under the command of at least a lieutenant in rank.

“They (police and military forces) may conduct spot (mobile) checkpoints,” said the Comelec provincial official, adding that their personnel need not be present in the checkpoint operations.

Joint security command centers have also been reactivated at the provincial, city and municipal levels with election officers as chair.

These joint security command centers shall be responsible in assisting the Comelec Committee on the Ban on Firearms and Security Concerns (CBFSC) in the implementation of the ban on the bearing, carrying or transporting of firearms in their respective areas, including information dissemination and compliance monitoring.

Pursuant to Comelec Resolution No. 10728, the PNP has suspended the validity of all Permits to Carry Firearms Outside of Residence (PTCFOR) issued to licensed firearm holders, juridical entities and members of government law enforcement agencies.

In a press statement, the PNP said that all gun-carrying privileges by virtue of PTCFOR issued by the PNP are suspended for the entire duration of the election period.

Also suspended are permits issued by the PNP to transport firearms, ammunition, explosives, public firearms display and exhibits, as well as employment of security personnel for VIPs (very important persons).

It further states that as a general rule, only bona-fide police, military and members of government law enforcement agencies in complete uniform and while on official duty are allowed to bear firearms for the entire duration of the election period. Exemption from the Comelec-imposed firearms prohibition may be secured from the Comelec CBFSC.

Those found to have violated the prohibition shall be imprisoned for not less than one year but not more than six years and shall not be subject to probation.

In addition, the guilty party shall suffer disqualification to hold public office and deprivation of the right of suffrage, and the cancellation of and/or perpetual disqualification to secure gun license or permit.

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