Solons: Arming brgy chiefs will be ‘recipe for disaster’
Opposition lawmakers have expressed fear that arming barangay (village) captains would be a “recipe for disaster” and could only lead to more abuse and violence in local villages in the country.
At the oath-taking of newly elected barangay officials of Region VII on Thursday night in Cebu, President Rodrigo Duterte said he was considering arming barangay chiefs to ensure their protection in the war against illegal narcotics and criminality.
He also said he would give his full support to barangay officials who would get in trouble for helping the government in the fight against illegal drugs.
Philippine National Police Chief Dir. Gen. Oscar Albayalde on Wednesday said he supports Duterte’s idea although the Department of the Interior and Local Government would decide if it would be implemented.
However, Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin said this plan “becomes a problem and not the solution.”
“With loose guns already a big problem, allowing more firearms even if licensed would perpetuate a culture of violence and abuse of power by persons of authority of which punong barangays are considered as such,” he said.
“Instead of being peaceful mediators, conciliators or arbitrators, you will turn them into armed enforcers or worse, armed goons of politicians. It goes against the intent and spirit of the Local Government Code and the barangay justice system,” he added.
As a former governor and mayor, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat said he knows that barangay officials are “not equipped to do law enforcement using guns.”
“They don’t have the skill, orientation and education. Their primary task in law enforcement is to act as monitors for the police, help enforce local ordinances and report the more serious crimes to capable law enforcers,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, suggested that the government focus on equipping the police force with the right equipment and training.
“Kulang na kulang pa rin ang ating mga kapulisan hanggang ngayon. Kahit nga may training ang ating mga pulis nagkakaproblema pa lalo na kung yung wala o limitado ang karanasan at pagsasanay ng mga opisyales ng barangay,” he said.
“Mahigit 300 thousand lahat ito kung kasama ang mga kagawad sa buong bansa. This will have an effect of militarizing the whole country and with the same mindset of killing now we could expect that the whole country would become a killing field,” he added.
Caloocan City 2nd District Rep. Edgar Erice has also warned that this scenario may lead to “creating a private army of political kingpins in cities, provinces and municipalities.”
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