MANILA, Philippines — Over 200 priests and preachers from other religious denominations want to carry firearms, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde revealed yesterday.
According to Albayalde, the PNP received requests for permit to carry firearms outside residence (PTCFOR) from 188 Catholic priests and 58 ministers, preachers and pastors from June 2017 to June 2018.
“As a policy and by the power vested in me as the approving authority for PTCFOR, we may accommodate requests for PTCFOR by duly qualified gun holders among members of the clergy and leaders of religious congregations, subject to their compliance with the minimum requirements,” Albayalde said.
The PNP chief did not say if any of the applications has been approved.
Albayalde, however, added there were some requests following the barangay elections last month.
He made the announcement a week after Fr. Richmond Nilo was shot dead while about to hold mass in Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija.
Nilo’s murder raised concerns among the clergy as he was the third priest to be gunned down in six months.
Last May, Fr. Mark Anthony Ventura was shot dead by an unidentified gunman after celebrating mass in Gattaran, Cagayan.
In December last year, Fr. Marcelino Paez was also shot dead after assisting in the release of a prisoner in Jaen, also in Nueva Ecija.
Albayalde clarified that the PNP is not aware if the religious leaders seeking gun permits have received death threats.
Just like other applicants, Albayalde said leaders of religious groups must undergo the process of obtaining firearms.
“We are also amenable to taking the extra step of providing firearms proficiency and marksmanship to religious leaders who wish to own and possess firearms,” he said.
Under the new gun ownership law, priests are among the professionals who are allowed to carry firearms.
Aside from priests, other professions listed under the law signed by former president Benigno Aquino III in 2014 include journalists, certified public accountants, prosecutors and medical practitioners.
The law requires the professionals to prove they were “under actual threat” before being issued special permit to carry firearms.
Despite the privileges given to priests, Church leaders said men of the cloth do not need to carry firearms for protection.
Malolos, Bulacan Bishop Jose Oliveros said priests are “supposed to be men of peace, not war.”
Lipa, Batangas Archbishop Ramon Arguelles said priests are not supposed to be afraid to face danger.
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines president and Davao Archbishop Romulo Arguelles said priests always face the danger of death in the exercise of their profession.
For whom the bell tolls
President Duterte has been critical of clergymen, claiming they have had illicit affairs and that some priests even baptized their own children.
Duterte, whose brutal war on illegal drugs has been criticized by Catholic bishops, talked about a priest who was killed because of his affairs with married women.
The President did not name the priest but he was apparently referring to Ventura, who was killed in Cagayan last month.
Duterte previously claimed that Ventura had romantic affairs with eight women.
While he was criticizing the priests in Iloilo yesterday, his speech was interrupted when church bells tolled during the Angelus hour at 6 p.m.
“Is that the Angelus? Do you pray it here? We Catholics should pray here. The priest might get angry,” the President told the crowd.
Duterte was talking about the hit squad of communists during the distribution of land ownership award certificates when he suddenly asked his audience whether they were praying the Angelus.
Duterte, who is known for his tough talk and cursing, paused and fell silent for nearly a minute.
Duterte then joked that the tolling of bells took too long and asked the “bell boy” to be quiet.
“I am a Christian. I believe in God. I respect the tolling of the bells,” he said.
Duterte went on to criticize Catholic priests, apparently focusing on Ventura.
“I do not want to (talk about it) because I have with me the papers,” Duterte said.
“The priest that baptized the child was also the one who threw a party for the baptism,” he added.
Duterte then claimed that the bells are tolling for illegal drugs and corruption, social ills that he vowed to end during his term.
“For whom does the bell toll? It tolls for thee,” the President said, referring to an expression that refers to death.
“For whom does the bell toll? It tolls for you. Drugs. Corruption.” – Alexis Romero
Emmanuel Tupas (The Philippine Star) – June 21, 2018 – 12:00am
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