Carrying firearms and deadly weapons will be prohibited nationwide starting Jan. 13 as the Philippines enters the official election period, a Commission on Elections resolution showed.
The gun ban also comes as a debate on stricter gun control gains national attention amid deaths due to stray bullets during the New Year revelry and a deadly shooting spree in Cavite.
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From Jan. 13 to June 12, 2013, "no person shall bear, carry or transport firearms or other deadly weapons outside his residence or place of business, and in public places... even if licensed to possess or to carry the same," Comelec said.
Resolution No. 9561-A issued Dec. 4 added that the ban covers "airguns, airsoft guns, and replicas/imitations of firearms in whatever form that can cause an ordinary person to believe that they are real."
Deadly weapons such as bladed instruments, hand grenades or other explosives except pyrotechnics will also be prohibited.
Allowed to carry firearms during the election period, however, are officers and members of the Philippine National Police, Armed Force, and agents of law enforcement or government security agencies.
Candidates running in the 2013 polls are also prohibited from enlisting bodyguards including members of the PNP or AFP, unless warranted and assigned security detail by the Comelec.
The resolution is based on Section 261 (q) of the Omnibus Election Code which identifies carrying firearms during election period as an "election offense."
The measure is seen to curb violence during the election period which is historically marred by bloody clashes among clashing candidates.
The government has earlier identified high-risk areas for the May 2013 polls with history of election-related violence, private armies, running family feuds as well as rebel and criminal groups.
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The election-prompted gun control measure will also be implemented amid a mounting debate sparked by the death of two victims--a 7-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy--hit by stray bullets during New Year's Eve celebrations.
Further fanning outrage over irresponsible gun use, meanwhile, is a shooting spree which killed and injured bystanders and markets vendors in Kawit, Cavite Friday.
Calls have been made for total gun bans not only during election season but also during the holidays, while officials are pushing for stricter implementation of existing rules.
Authorities' failure to seize illegal firearms are also being blamed for rising violence involving guns.
Police estimate that about 600,000 locally circulated firearms are without license last year even as 1.2 million firearms have been registered, reports said.