October 3, 2008
Sta. Barbara Mayor Reynaldo Velasco defended on Friday the issuance of shotguns to barangay captains provincewide, as he called the act “a legal tender in compliance with the Philippine firearms law.”
“The issuances of the firearms are in order and did not violate any regulation or policy,” Velasco told newsmen in an “ambush” interview after the turnover of command rites of the Pangasinan Police Provincial Office (PPPO) where Sr. Supt. Percival Barba replaced Sr. Supt. Isagani Nerez as police provincial director.
“The barangay captains are persons in authority and so are qualified to handle firearms for peace-keeping efforts,” the mayor, a former chief of the Philippine National Police Firearms and Explosives Office in Camp Crame, said.
“What is needed is a uniform regulation that will safeguard the use of these firearms so that barangay officials will not be discouraged to do their jobs and will not be put in ‘hot water,’” the mayor pointed out.
“We should not be afraid of the few who would commit mistakes, but be more concerned with the many who will keep the peace,” he said. .
“They (barangay captains) are responsible officials and are duty-bound to protect their constituents,” he said, adding that the firearms will be of great help in the upkeep of peace and order in the areas.
But Velasco warned that the firearms can always be recalled and any barangay captain will be meted the appropriate penalties if found to have violated the firearms law.
The issuance of the firearms by the provincial government, Velasco stressed, was duly authorized by the provincial board through a resolution allocating funds for the purchase of the peace-keeping equipment.
Gov. Amado T. Espino, Jr. in a separate interview clarified that the firearms can be returned to the provincial government anytime through the PNP.
He reiterated that the purchase and issuance of the shotguns were made in response to the clamor of the barangay captains more than a year ago to be equipped with peace-keeping equipment.
The governor issued the statement following reports that Alaminos City Mayor Hernani Braganza, was not in conformity with the issuances.
Gov. Espino said: “If Mayor Braganza is against it, that’s alright. May 17 na mga kapitan nya, ang tumanggap. Kung ayaw ng barangay, ayaw ni mayor, sabihin niya sa barangay isoli mo. Kung gusto isoli ng kapitan, isoli niya pero kung sabihin ng kapitan na kailangan niya yun, medyo ibang bagay na yan. Ipagtatanggol ko yung karapatan ng kapitan dahil gobernador din niya ako.”
All the other 46 towns and cities of Pangasinan, except Dagupan City which is a chartered city, support the shotgun distribution. About 98% of all barangay captains received the shotgun to maintain peace and order in their respective barangay. (PIO/Rafael Manuel III)