Davide backs arming of brgy captains
In the wake of the killing last week of a village chieftain in Mandaue City, the decision of Mayor Luigi Quisumbing to arm barangay captains got solid support from Cebu’s election and local government officials led by Gov. Hilario Davide III.
For Davide, issuing firearms to the barangay captains is needed in order to ensure their safety.
However, he said village chiefs must first undergo a psychological examination to make sure they will be responsible gun holders.
“I think it is okay to issue firearms to our barangay captains, provided that they are responsible enough and they will be subjected to take psychological test,” said Davide in a news conference at the Capitol yesterday.
“We just have to make sure that they are fit to carry firearms, since there is a tendency that some will abuse the authority,” he added.
Officials from both the Department of Interior and Local Government in Central Visayas (DILG-7) and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) provincial office found no legal impediment to assigning firearms to barangay captains.
DILG-7 director Rene Burdeos said there should be no problem with barangay captains carrying firearms for as long as they have the pertinent documents and permits.
“The rules governing the use of firearms on ordinary civilians will also apply to barangay captains,” he told Cebu Daily News in the phone interview last night.
And this would include having the firearms licensed and securing a permit to carry it outside of their residence, he added.
Burdeos also believed it would be good for barangay captains to carry firearms as a form of protection as he enforces local laws.
“As a matter of fact, the barangay captain is the number one enforcers of all laws and ordinances in the barangay. He must also maintain public order in the barangay. He has big responsibilities,” Burdeos added.
This was echoed by Provincial Election Supervisor Lionel Marco Castillano.
He said the Comelec has no problem if barangay captains are assigned with firearms as long as they are qualified and have the necessary documents.
“It is in the Local Government Code that barangay captains can carry firearms within his jurisdiction,” he said.
However, he stressed, barangay officials should also abide by the prohibitions during the election period.
“There is a gun ban during the election period,” he reminded.
The call to arm the barangay captains came at a time when the barangay polls are to be held just five months from now, or on Oct. 23, 2017.
But Castillano said barangay captains can also apply for an exemption from the gun ban at the Comelec during the election period if they really need to carry firearms for safety.
Barangay Captain Antonino Maquilan of Mantuyong in Mandaue City, an amputee, was on board his wheelchair when an unknown assailant shot him near the barangay hall at 5:30 a.m. last May 3.
He was brought to the hospital but he eventually died.
Police investigators yesterday released a facial composite of the man who allegedly shot Maquilan.
The man only identified as “June” allegedly extorted money from Maquilan before the latter was killed.
Based on the investigation, June sent text messages to Maquilan, threatening to kill him if he won’t give P20,000 to him, said Senior Insp. Janelito Marquez, station commander of the Centro Police Station in Mandaue City.
The suspect — who stands around 5’5”-5’7” — was described to be of medium built, has fair complexion and was about 40-45 years old. The man is believed to be hiding somewhere in the Metro Cebu area.
Police have yet to identify the suspect’s companion who drove the getaway motorcycle.
The Mandaue City government has announced a P200,000 reward to anyone who can give information that could lead to the arrest of the suspects.
Maquilan’s remains were, meanwhile, laid to rest in his hometown in Sogod in northern Cebu yesterday.
In the wake of Maquilan’s death, Mayor Quisumbing decided to reissue firearms to the barangay captains in Mandaue City that was halted when he took office last year.
The village chiefs were given city-issued firearms during the administration of his predecessor, former mayor and now sixth district Rep. Jonas Cortes.
Davide said he also fully understood that Quisumbing only wanted to ensure the safety of his city’s village chiefs in the wake of the senseless killing of Maquilan.
Davide said it might now appear that the barangay captain was killed by disgruntled residents of his barangay.
The governor said he went to the wake of Maquilan last Monday and spoke to the latter’s widow from whom he learned that the assailant and his companion could be residents of the barangay who wrongly believed that the village chief had done nothing to help them over a demolition case.
On the other hand, there could be other assailants since Maquilan was the barangay captain of Mantuyong, part of which was gutted by a fire last March 2016 that displaced hundreds of residents.
But while Davide was all for arming barangay captains, he would not not recommend it to barangay tanods, whom he said were better off with just having whistles and batons.
The governor was also concerned that barangay tanods could misuse their firearms, especially if they would get drunk or would get involved in a personal fight.
Provincial Board Member Celestino “Tining” Martinez III, on the other hand, said it is high time that barangay captains should be issued with firearms.
Martinez, who sits in the PB as president of the Association of Barangay Council (ABC) in the province, added that barangay captains need to protect themselves as they play an important role in the war on drugs that put their lives in danger.
“It’s high time na gyud since ang responsibilidad namong mga kapitan karon ni-level up na. Mas kuyaw na karon,” Martinez said.
(It’s high time for barangay captains to have firearms since we now have more responsibilities. It’s more dangerous now.)
Martinez, the barangay captain of Cayang in Bogo City, explained that even without the support of the government, it is better that the captains will have license firearms.
He said the law clearly provides that barangay captains are allowed to have firearms.
Martinez was referring to Section 389 paragraph 15 of the Local Government Code (LGC), which states that, “the punong barangay in the performance of his peace and other functions, the punong barangay shall be entitled to possess and carry the necessary firearm within his territorial jurisdiction, subject to appropriate rules and regulations.”
Martinez said that, like the governors and mayors, the barangay captains are also considered officials with high risk functions.
“Nabutang na nga high risk and life threatening ang mga barangay officials ilabi na ang mga kapitan (We are put in high risk and life threatening situations. Barangay Captains are task to police their areas),” Martinez noted.
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