By JOEY NACALABAN
and LITO RULONA
THE president of the Liga ng mga Barangay in the city yesterday expressed apprehensions over the possibility of the government arming barangay officials, pointing out that it was a serious matter.
“Allowing barangay officials to possess firearms is not a joke,” said Councilor Yan Lam Lim.
A Roman Catholic priest and a ranking police official at Camp Alagar also expressed apprehensions, saying that the plan of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to arm barangay officials can be abused.
Although, he did not question the DILG’s order, Lim said strict regulations and rules should be in place before the government allows barangay officials to arm themselves. He said those who would be armed should undergo proper trainings, seminars and orientations, and everyone should be subjected to background checks and psychological examination.
“Kuyaw man gud kay naa ra bay ubang barangay chairman nga mga dagkog garbo ug hambugero basin di kapugong magamit niya ang maong armas,” Lim said.
He said he was also worried that the guns would be used for illegal activities.
But Lim said organized barangay officials in the city would likely issue an “expression of support” to the DILG plan because the village officials think they need guns for protection against criminals.
Personally, said Lim, he is in favor of the plan but stressed the need for strict rules and regulations.
Msgr. Rey Monsanto, vicar general of the Roman Catholic archdiocese in Cagayan de Oro, frowned over the DILG plan, adding that some people tend to become abusive and dangerous when armed.
Monsanto also pointed out that many barangay officials have been linked to “narco politics,” and arming them would only give law enforcers more headaches.
“Di na gyud kinahanglan armasan ni sila. Enough naman ang kadaghanon sa pulis ug sigi pa man gani silag recruit. Kana nalang sila ang gamiton,” said Monsanto. “Dili ikalimod nga daghan sa atong mga barangay officials ang dunay armas and then halos gakabati nato nga dunay abuse nga gakahimo matag-karon og unya.”
Supt. Surki Sereñas, police spokesman for northern Mindanao, said he was also worried that abuses involving barangay officials would increase.
But Sereñas said he trusts that the DILG would come out with measures to avoid abuses.
He pointed out that there are many requirements before a citizen can secure a permit to own a gun.
Serenas said the move of the DILG is welcome but the government should be strict. “Kinahanglan pa kini og daghan nga consideration. But we are looking at the positive side.”