MANILA - Barangay tanods and other members of so-called police auxiliary units are not allowed under the law to carry firearms in the performance of their official duties and functions, the Department of the Interior and Local Government said Thursday.
"While we acknowledge that barangay tanods play a complementary role to local authorities in the maintenance of the peace of order in their respective communities, we firmly reiterate that they are not authorized to carry any firearm in the performance of their duties even if they own these firearms," Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said in a statement.
This comes after a barangay tanod in Tondo, Manila shot dead a man for violating curfew. The victim, who was suffering from mental illness, reportedly approached the suspect with a stick, prompting the barangay tanod to shoot him in the chest.
Under Republic Act 10591 or Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act, the authority of police auxiliary units to carry firearms has been revoked, Año said. It was previously allowed by Circular 2008-013 of the National Police Commission.
Registered firearms of local government units shall only be issued to a government official or employee with a permanent plantilla position, the DILG chief stressed.
"Since the barangay tanod position is not part of the plantilla, barangay tanods are, therefore, not authorized to bear firearms while on duty,” he added.
Under DILG Memorandum Circular No. 2003-42, barangay tanods may only use the following: nightstick with teargas with belt and holster, handcuff with holster, whistle, flashlight, raincoat, rain boots, small notebooks and ballpens, and first-aid kits.
Should a barangay tanod be under threat, they could seek the help of local police, Año said.
"Hindi sana humantong sa pamamaril at pagkamatay ng curfew violator kung hindi armado ang tanod at kung kumilos siya nang naaayon lamang sa katungkulan niya,” he added.
(A curfew violator would not have been killed if the tanod was not armed and he performed according to his duties.)
The police is set to file murder charges against the barangay tanod who was identified as Cesar Panlaqui.
The Commission on Human Rights had said that Saturday's incident was not the first time law enforcers have been accused of using excessive force against quarantine violators, with some leading to their deaths.
Last May, a man with autism was shot dead by a policeman during a supposed raid of an illegal cockfighting session. A month prior, a curfew violator died in Laguna after he was allegedly beaten by a barangay tanod.
Last year, a retired soldier, who had post-traumatic stress disorder, was shot dead by policemen at a quarantine checkpoint in Quezon City.