Firearms ban set in Kalibo for Ati-Atihan Festival

By Jennifer P. Rendon

The Aklan Police Provincial Office (AKPPO) reiterated on Saturday the one-week suspension of all permits to transport and carry firearms outside of residence (PTCFOR) in Kalibo, Aklan as part of security preparations for the Ati-Atihan Festival.

Colonel Victorino Romanillos, Aklan police chief, said the order is based on a memorandum issued by PNP chief Benjamin Acorda Jr. last Dec. 1, 2023.

Romanillos said the ban will start from 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 15 to 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 21, 2024, the highlight of the festival.

“Only members of the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines and other law enforcement agencies (LEAs) performing official duties and in agency-prescribed uniforms are allowed to carry firearms,” he said.

Romanillos said it is done to ensure a firearm-free event for public safety purposes.

But while the PTCFOR suspension is limited to Kalibo, AKPPO spokesperson Staff Sergeant Jane Vega said that neighboring and other municipalities of Aklan will also intensify their campaign against unregistered and loose possession of firearms during the Ati Fest celebration.

“So, if gun holders are carrying their firearms outside of their residence even not in the Kalibo area, they must ensure to carry with them pertinent documents,” she said.

Meanwhile, Vega said they would be deploying more than 2,000 personnel coming from the Police Regional Office (PRO) 6 and Aklan PNP.

The number excludes personnel from AFP and other law enforcement agencies.

There would also be force multipliers coming to the municipal disaster and risk reduction management offices (MDRRMOs), provincial DRRMO, communication groups and volunteer groups like the Phil. Red Cross.

Earlier, the AKPPO also confirmed that they have requested for the signal shutdown, as part of their security measures for the Ati-Atihan Festival next year.

But Romanillos said that it would just be for a short period of time.

With the endorsement from the Kalibo local government, the AkPPO has requested a three-hour shutdown on Jan. 21, 2024 only.