Priests, clergymen seek permit to carry firearms amid slays

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 20 2018 03:13 PM

A statue of the baby Jesus on a bed of bullet shells is seen in a Nativity scene outside the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi, Italy, December 21, 2017. The 445 shells represent the number of priests, nuns, monks and religious teachers killed for their faith since 2000. Alessandro Bianchi, REUTERS/File

MANILA - More than 200 priests and other religious leaders have sought permits to carry firearms amid recent killings of clergymen, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said Wednesday.

Albayalde cited latest data showing that the PNP has received 246 requests for permits to carry firearms from the sector.

Of this figure, 188 are from priests while 58 others are from ministers, preachers, and pastors.

"We are also amenable to taking the extra step of providing firearms proficiency and marksmanship training to religious leaders who wish to own and possess firearms," Albayalde said.

Albayalde, however, clarified that the PNP is unaware of whether all of the religious leaders seeking permits to carry firearms have death threats.

The flood of requests from religious leaders came following the recent killing of a Nueva Ecija priest who was about to hold mass.

Fr. Richmond Nilo was about to begin Mass in a church in Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija on the evening of June 10 when he was shot dead.

His death raised concerns in the Roman Catholic church, as he was the third priest to be gunned down in 6 months.

Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines President and Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles had previously thumbed down the idea of arming priests.

He explained that the "danger of death" has always been part of a priest's ministry and that it is the duty of the priest to face the perils of carrying out his mission. 

"I would strongly oppose to arm the priest. We are men of God, men of the church and it is part of our ministry to face, not always, but to face dangers, to face deaths if one may say that way. But we would do it just what Jesus did," Valles said.