GenSan implements ‘gun-free zones’ for charter day, tuna fest

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 28 Aug) – Police authorities have declared anew parts of the city as “gun-free zones” in connection with the celebration of the 46th city charter anniversary and 16th Tuna Festival.

Chief Insp. Edgar Yago, Pendatun police station chief, said Thursday such move is part of the intensified security measures that they adopted for the festivities, which will formally open on Sept. 5.

He said among those placed as “gun-free zones” are the city’s oval plaza, which is the main festival venue, and other areas hosting activities related to this year’s festivities.

The oval plaza, which is under the jurisdiction of the Pendatun or city police station number 1, hosts the tuna carnival village, food strip and flea market.

“I’m urging my fellow men in uniform, especially military and police personnel, to refrain from bringing their firearms at the oval plaza and other designated areas,” Yago said in an interview over TV Patrol Socsksargen.

He said the prohibition covers licensed firearms and those issued with authorities by various law enforcement units or agencies.

Aside from the ban on firearms, Yago said the carrying of backpacks is also not allowed within the oval plaza.

In the previous festivities held at the city oval plaza, the City Police Office banned the carrying of backpacks as a measure to prevent possible saboteurs from using them to sneak in deadly weapons and materials.

Last year, City Mayor Ronnel Rivera issued an executive order directing the “full and intensified implementation of the firearms laws” within the city’s 26 barangays to ensure the area’s security during the festivities.

This city, dubbed as the “Tuna Capital of the Philippines,” will mark its charter anniversary on September 5.

Prior to the opening of the festivities, which will run until Sept. 13, the city will host the 23rd Mindanao Business Conference on Sept. 1-3 and the 2014 National Tuna Congress on Sept. 4-5.

The major activities in this year’s festivities are the Torque-Motospeed Drag Racing Competition, 4th Tuna Fest National Open Table Tennis, Manny Pacquiao Cup: Gensan Tuna Festival Int’l 10-Ball Tournament, 5th Tunafest Lawn Tennis, Soccsksargen Chess Championship, MIO Motor Race, Beach Volleyball, 9th Tuna Festival Skills Olympics, 2nd Mayor Ronnel C. Rivera Cup (practical shooting), 13th Yellowfin Bike Challenge, Tuna Float Parade, Tunafest Lawihan Triathlon, 2nd Tunafest Jetski Invitational, 2014 Fish Fest sa Fish Port, Tuna Fest Cheerleading Competition, Tuna Fest Job Fair 2014, Lawihan Street Dancing Competition and the Pa-Morningan Sa Gensan.

The city will attempt to capture a Guinness world record for the “largest fish display” on Sept. 11 and host the coronation night of the 2014 Mutya ng Mindanao on Sept. 12.

Philip Pabelic, president of the city’s hoteliers association, said most of the hotels in the city are now fully booked for the upcoming festivities.

He said some hotels, pension houses and inns have closed their bookings as early as June and booking inquiries from both domestic and foreign tourists have been increasing in the last several days.