OPPOSITION lawmakers yesterday opposed the “dangerous” proposal of President Rodrigo Duterte to arm barangay captains, stressing this would only create more private armies that will further sow fear, terror and violence in the countryside.
“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,” Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice, a member of the Magnificent 7 or the so-called House independent bloc, told House reporters.
While warning barangay captains that they would be made accountable if they abuse their position, President Duterte said in a meeting with village chiefs in Bicol that he would support arming them to put more muscle in their fight against dangerous traders of illegal drugs.
Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano, also a member of the Magnificent 7, said “arming barangay officials will create more problems than solutions to criminality.”
“We should instead focus on equipping our police force with right equipment and training. Kulang na kulang pa rin ang ating mga kapulisan hanggang ngayon. Kahit nga may training ang ating mga pulis nagkakaproblema pa lalo na kung ‘yung wala o limitado ang karanasan at pagsasanay ng mga opisyales ng barangay,” Alejano explained.
Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin, another member of the Magnificent 7, said arming barangay officials is a recipe for disaster.
“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,” said Villarin.