GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/13 August) — – The city government has declared the entire area as a “gun-free zone” during the celebration of the city’s 44th charter anniversary and 14th Tuna festival.
Executive Order 23, issued by Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio, imposes a total firearms ban within the city’s 26 barangays “in the interest of peace and order” from August 8 to September 18 although the festivities are scheduled for August 18 to September 9.
She said the move is part of the comprehensive security plan adopted by the local government for the three-week festivities. “This is to ensure a secure, peaceful and orderly celebration as well as avert the occurrence of gun-related crimes within the city,” the mayor said.
The city government’s “gun-free zone” declaration was patterned after a local executive order issued in 2010 that also set a total firearms ban in the entire city to address the then resurgence of gun-related crimes.
Custodio issued the declaration by citing provisions of Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991 that specifically gives a city mayor the authority to “act as the deputized representative o the National Police Commission, formulate the peace and order plan of the city and upon its approval, implementing the same, and as such exercise general and operational control and supervision over the local police forces in the city.”
Based on the provisions of Philippine National Police (PNP) Memorandum Circular Order No. 2010-008, which rationalizes the PNP’s policies on possession, bearing and carrying of firearms, the mayor said local government units were encouraged to declare their respective territorial jurisdictions as “gun-free zones.”
Col. Joselito Kakilala, Joint Task Force GenSan chief, said Monday the declaration effectively suspends the government-issued permit to carry firearms outside of residence (PTCFOR) of legitimate gun holders until the lifting of the firearms ban.
Also covered by the total gun ban are military, police and government law enforcement personnel who are not on official duty, he said.
“(The PTCFOR) is suspended for the moment. For military, police and other law enforcement personnel, they may be allowed to carry a firearm if they are on duty and if they have a mission order, letter order, detail order and acknowledgement receipt of the issued firearm,” the official said.
Since last week, Kakilala said they already intercepted nine handguns through the checkpoints that they established in four major entry and exit points of the city.
He said their personnel manning the checkpoints are currently inspecting all private vehicles, including motorcycles, public utility vehicles and passengers that are entering the city for any carried firearms and possible explosive devices.
Kakilala said their ongoing security operations are also assisted by personnel from the regional and city police offices.
Highlighting the annual festival, which adopted the theme “It’s more fun in GenSan,” will be the city’s 44th charter anniversary celebration on September 5.
The festivities will formally open on August 18 with the unveiling of the “Tuna village” at the city’s oval plaza grounds. The tuna-themed village will feature a flea market, carnival, art camp, tuna products display area, food stalls and a spot for the nightly shows.
This year’s activities include the Tuna Fest inter-fishing basketball tournament, aqua sports competition, photo contest, coastal clean-up drive, game fishing, Fiscarade or parade of fish cars, tuna float parade, fishtahan sa fishport, street party sa fishport, Bombo Radyo bankarera or boat race, street dancing competition, Karagatan awards and the 2012 National Tuna Congress. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)