Duterte's idea of arming barangay captains slammed

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 13) — Minority lawmakers and some barangay captains themselves oppose President Rodrigo Duterte's plan of arming village chiefs and officials to fight crime and illegal drugs.

Caloocan Rep. Edgay Erice said the idea will only lead to a "wild, wild west scenario."

"Arming barangay captains of the 40,000 barangays simply means creating a private army of political kingpins in cities, provinces and municipalities," Erice said in a statement.

Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat warned of "more abuse and violence," stressing that barangay officials are not equipped to enforce laws with guns in their hands.

"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," Baguilat said.

Barangay Captain Joey de Guzman of Barangay Socorro, Quezon City is also not convinced holding a gun can deter crime.

"Walang training ang barangay about diyan. Hindi kami police enforcement," de Guzman said.

[Translation: "Barangay officials do not have that kind of training. We are not tasked with police enforcement."]

All village chiefs will have to undergo marksmanship training first before owning a firearm, Philippine National Police Chief Oscar Albayalde said.

"Hindi pwedeng bigyan mo yung isang tao na hindi marunong bumaril napakadelikado nun (You cannot just give it to someone who does not know how to use a gun, that is dangerous). You have to train these people also kung talagang magkaron ng directive to arm them," Albayalde said.

Speaking before the barangay chairmen of Central Luzon on Tuesday, Duterte said he "might consider" arming them to support the government's anti-crime and anti-drug campaign.

He promised to stand by village leaders who face charges in the performance of their duty.

"Remember this. Pag nagka-atraso kayo [If you get in trouble], and there is a case filed against you and you think you are in the performance of your duty as a barangay (captain) tapos napatay mo o nabugbog mo. Do not be afraid. The only thing i ask of you is.. Kung mali mo, huwag ka nang lumapit sa akin [If you're the one who committed the mistake, don't seek for my assistance]," he said.

In accordance to law

Interior Undersecretary Martin Diño assured firearms will be given only to qualified villages officials who are keen on fighting crime and illegal drugs.

"Hindi ko bibigyan ng pagkakataon mag-armas ang mga questionable na barangay captain (Questionable barangay captains won't get firearms)," he said.

He added arming barangay officials does not violate any law.

He cited Section 389 of the Local Government Code, which states, "In the performance of his peace and order functions, the Punong Barangay shall be entitled to possess and carry the necessary firearm within his territorial jurisdiction, subject to appropriate rules and regulations."

Liga ng mga Barangay National President Edmund Abesamis told CNN Philippines that while the law allows barangay officials to carry firearms, they still have to go through an application process to be granted a permit to carry firearms.

Diño said he will ask Albayalde to expedite barangay captains' requests for licenses to own and carry firearms - a request he also made to former PNP Chief Ronald dela Rosa.

CNN Philippines' Gerg Cahiles and Eimor Santos contributed this report.