Philippines begins 150-day nationwide gun ban to prevent violence in May elections

A nationwide 150-day ban on the carrying of firearms outside residences in the Philippines has begun to prevent violence ahead of May 13 congressional and local elections.

Commission on Elections chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. says the ban started Sunday and ends June 12. Army-backed police contingents will enforce the ban, especially in about 800 towns in 15 provinces considered security hotspots due to a recent history of election violence or the presence of private armed groups.

Despite crackdowns, Philippine elections have been marred by violence, especially in rural areas awash in weapons and private militias. In 2009, 58 people, including 32 media workers, were killed by more than 100 gunmen in a massacre blamed on a political rivalry between two powerful clans in southern Maguindanao province.