Duterte plan to arm village chiefs comes under attack

President Rodrigo Duterte early this week said he ‘might consider’ arming village officials (‘barangay’) to help in the fight against illegal drugs and criminals. (Reuters)
Updated 14 June 2018
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Duterte plan to arm village chiefs comes under attack

  • Rodrigo Duterte: “I might consider arming you. I will ask the police and the intelligence community. If you are really into it, the crime, I will support you and may grant you permission to carry firearms.”
  • Magdalo party-list Representative Gary Alejano said that arming village officials would create more problems than it would solve.

MANILA: President Rodrigo Duterte’s proposal to arm village chiefs could turn the country into a “killing field,” critics of the plan have warned.

Duterte early this week said he “might consider” arming village officials (“barangay”) to help in the fight against illegal drugs and criminals.

The Philippines’ Interior Ministry has given its backing to the plan.

“I might consider arming you. I will ask the police and the intelligence community. If you are really into it, the crime, I will support you and may grant you permission to carry firearms,” Duterte said in a speech to 2,854 newly elected village officials from Central Luzon on Tuesday.

The Philippine leader’s proposal drew mixed reactions, with some expressing support, while others voiced fears about community leaders being allowed to carry weapons.

Eduardo Ano, the interior and local government secretary officer-in-charge, said the idea would offer a form of self-protection for village officials.

In an email to Arab News, Ano said that arming village chiefs is a viable plan that depended on the gravity of the threat posed by lawless groups such as drug syndicates and terrorists.

“The chiefs are our first line of defense at the grassroots level. The need for urgent protection is imperative,” he said.

“Arming them would be more for self-defense since we have enough police to operate against lawless elements.”

According to Ano, village officials can buy their own guns legally and be granted weapons permits to defend themselves.

Philippines’ law provides that in the performance of his “peace and order” functions, a village chief “shall be entitled to possess and carry necessary firearm within his territorial jurisdiction subject to appropriate rules and regulations.”

Opposition lawmakers and and some members of the police force aired their concerns about the plan.

Magdalo party-list Representative Gary Alejano said that arming village officials would create more problems than it would solve.

“This will have an effect of militarizing the whole country. The country would become a killing field,” he said.

Alejano said the government should focus on providing police force with proper equipment and training.

Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat Jr. said village officials were not equipped to carry out law enforcement using guns.

“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,” he said.

“Arming village officials will only lead to more abuse and violence.”

Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin said arming village leaders was “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.

“Instead of being peaceful mediators, conciliators or arbitrators, you will turn them into armed enforcers or, even worse, armed goons of politicians,” he said.


NATO will show unity despite differences: Stoltenberg

Updated 20 June 2018
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NATO will show unity despite differences: Stoltenberg

  • Stoltenberg said NATO hopes to start accession talks with Macedonia at the summit, which will be held in Brussels on July 11 and 12
  • The US leader has also complained that the transatlantic defense alliance is more useful for Europe than it is for the United States

BRUSSELS: NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg voiced confidence Tuesday that Alliance members will demonstrate unity at a summit next month despite “important differences” between the United States and European members of the transatlantic Alliance. US President Donald Trump has called on fellow members to shoulder a bigger share of the NATO budget. The US leader has also complained that the transatlantic defense alliance is more useful for Europe than it is for the United States. However Stoltenberg remained decidedly upbeat on Tuesday, while acknowledging the differences. “I’m absolutely confident that the NATO summit will demonstrate the transatlantic unity, that Europe and the United States stand together despite important differences on important issues like trade, the Paris (climate) agreement or the Iran nuclear deal,” the NATO leader told the France 24 television channel. “I met president Donald Trump recently in the White House and he reconfirmed his strong personal commitment to NATO and he also recognized that European allies are investing more in defense.” Trump caused dismay in Europe during his presidential campaign when he said that NATO was “obsolete” and failing to meet the challenge posed by Daesh terror groups. “He has a strong message about the need to do more (on defense spending) and I agree with him and the European allies also agree with him,” said Stoltenberg. Stoltenberg also said NATO hopes to start accession talks with Macedonia at the summit, which will be held in Brussels on July 11 and 12, after the small Balkan nation reached a deal with Greece to be renamed the Republic of North Macedonia.