SC re­jects pe­ti­tion vs Com­elec gun ban

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - NEWS - By Mar­lon Ramos @MRamosINQ

The Supreme Court has re­jected a pe­ti­tion by pri­vate se­cu­rity com­pa­nies seek­ing ex­emp­tion from the Com­mis­sion on Elec­tion ( Com­elec) gun ban, say­ing the poll body had been armed by the 1987 Con­sti­tu­tion and other laws to im­pose the re­stric­tion on ev­ery­one.

In a de­ci­sion dated Oct. 3, the 15-mem­ber tri­bunal unan­i­mously af­firmed the Com­elec’s au­thor­ity in is­su­ing Res­o­lu­tion No. 10015, which pro­hib­ited all in­di­vid­u­als from car­ry­ing firearms in pub­lic places with­out its per­mis­sion dur­ing the 150-day pe­riod sur­round­ing the May 2016 bal­lot­ing.

The Com­elec’s Nov. 13, 2015 res­o­lu­tion also tem­po­rar­ily barred the hir­ing of pri­vate se­cu­rity es­corts dur­ing that time.

The high court jet­ti­soned for lack of merit the pe­ti­tion for cer­tio­rari filed by mem­bers of the Philip­pine As­so­ci­a­tion of De­tec­tive and Pro­tec­tive Agency Op­er­a­tors (Pad­pao) in Cen­tral Visayas, which in­sisted that pri­vate se­cu­rity agen­cies should be ex­empted from the gun ban.

“The power of the Com­elec to pro­mul­gate rules and reg­u­la­tions to en­force and im­ple­ment elec­tions laws is en­shrined in the Con­sti­tu­tion,” the tri­bunal said.

“(T)he court (has) rec­og­nized the wide lat­i­tude given to the Com­elec by the Con­sti­tu­tion and by law to en­force and im­ple­ment elec­tion laws to ful­fill its man­date of en­sur­ing free, or­derly, peace­ful and hon­est elec­tions,” it said in a de­ci­sion writ­ten by As­so­ciate Jus­tice Al­fredo Ban­jamin Caguioa.

In re­ject­ing the claim of the pri­vate se­cu­rity agen­cies, the court said the elec­tion body “did not ex­ceed its rule-mak­ing au­thor­ity” in is­su­ing its gun ban res­o­lu­tion.

The court also said the Com­elec could col­lect P50 in fil­ing fee for a gun ban ex­emp­tion per­mit for each pri­vate se­cu­rity per­son­nel, say­ing such an amount “can hardly be said to be ex­or­bi­tant.”

In chal­leng­ing the Com­elec’s au­thor­ity, Pad­pao ar­gued that Repub­lic Act No. 5487, or the Pri­vate Se­cu­rity Agency Law, gave them the right to own, trans­port and carry firearms as part of their business prac­tice.

It said Section 17 of the law granted the power to reg­u­late pri­vate se­cu­rity per­son­nel only to the Philip­pine National Po­lice and not the Com­elec.

In ad­di­tion, they said the Com­elec res­o­lu­tion vi­o­lated the con­sti­tu­tional guar­an­tee of equal pro­tec­tion of the laws and of the “non­im­pair­ment of con­tracts.”

The tri­bunal, how­ever, ruled that Section 6, Ar­ti­cle IXA of the 30-year-old Char­ter pro­vided that “each com­mis­sion en banc may pro­mul­gate its own rules con­cern­ing plead­ings and prac­tice be­fore it or be­fore any of its of­fices.”

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