MANILA (UPDATE) - Opposition lawmakers on Wednesday criticized President Rodrigo Duterte's proposal to arm barangay chiefs to ensure their protection in the war on drugs and criminality.
Duterte on Tuesday said he "might consider" arming barangay chiefs and vowed to give his full support to barangay officials who would get in trouble for helping the government in the fight against drugs.
Duterte yesterday said, “If I see you fighting, you don’t only have the [backing of the] Philippine National Police, the military, but me and [Interior] Secretary [Eduardo Año] will see you through. I won’t neglect you.”
Senator Risa Hontiveros maintained that it is the responsibility of the police to carry firearms and maintain peace and order.
“Hinding-hindi yan (arming barangay chiefs) solution. Mas gagawin pa rin niyang grabe ang sitwasyon ngayon," she said.
(That is not the solution. That will only worsen the current situation.)
Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice blasted the idea, saying it may 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. It’s a wild, wild west scenario,” he said.
Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin said the idea is a "recipe for disaster," while Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat simply dismissed the President's remarks, noting that barangay officials are "not equipped" to use guns for law enforcement.
"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," Villarin said.
"Their (barangay chiefs) 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...arming barangay officials will only lead to more abuse and violence,” Baguilat added.
-with a report from Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News