Policemen manning checkpoints cannot arrest a person found to be in possession of a firearm or bladed weapon, a lawyer maintained on Wednesday.
Moises Samson said even if police officers found a gun inside a vehicle, they have no power to arrest the driver unless they have an arrest warrant.
He cited Section 266 of the Omnibus Election Code, which explicitly declared in part:
“Arrest in connection with the election campaign
–No person shall be arrested and/or detained at any time for any alleged offense committed during and in connection with any election through any act or language tending to support or oppose any candidate, political party or coalition of political parties under or pursuant to any order of whatever name or nature and by whomsoever issued EXCEPT ONLY UPON A WARRANT OF ARREST ISSUED BY A COMPETENT JUDGE AFTER ALL THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE CONSTITUTION SHALL HAVE BEEN STRICTLY COMPLIED WITH x x x. – “
“From the aforequoted provision of the law, it is clear, like a crystal ball, that the possessor of a gun inside a motor vehicle cannot be validly arrested in check points without a warrant of arrest issued by a competent judge,” the lawyer said in a letter to The Manila Times.
“Therefore, a police officer who mans a checkpoint shall not arrest a possessor of a gun inside a motor vehicle, simply because of (the) election gun ban, without a valid warrant of arrest, otherwise he could be charged, prosecuted and convicted for the crime of illegal arrest,” he added.
In the same way, the lawyer said persons who committed other election offenses can not be validly arrested without a warrant of arrest, “even though the commission is in the presence of the law enforcement officers.”
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) started implementing a gun ban on Sunday, the start of the election period.
Comelec Chairman Juan Andres Bautista earlier said that during the entire election period, no person shall be allowed to carry or transport firearms or deadly weapons outside of their residence or place of business.
So far, the Philippine National Police (PNP) had arrested 56 people for violating the gun ban.
Most of those arrested were civilians.