Village watchmen not allowed to carry firearms
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Thursday said barangay tanods (village watchmen) and other members of so-called “police auxiliary units” (PAU) are not allowed under the law to carry firearms in the performance of their official duties and functions, according to a report by Philippine News Agency.
In a news release, DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act enacted in 2012 has revoked the authority of police auxiliary units, including barangay tanods, to carry firearms which was previously allowed by Circular 2008-013 of the National Police Commission (Napolcom).
“While we acknowledge that barangay tanods play a complementary role to local authorities in the maintenance of the peace of order in their respective communities, we firmly reiterate that they are not authorized to carry any firearm in the performance of their duties even if they own these firearms,” Año said.
Año said the law is clear that registered firearms of local government units (LGUs) shall only be issued to a government official or employee with a permanent plantilla position.
“Since the barangay tanod position is not part of the plantilla, barangay tanods are, therefore, not authorized to bear firearms while on duty,” he said.
He called on all local chief executives (LCEs) to direct all barangay tanods within their respective jurisdiction not to carry any firearm while in the performance of their duties and functions or face charges from the DILG.
Under DILG Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 2003-42, the equipment which barangay tanods may use includes a nightstick with teargas with belt and holster, handcuff with holster, whistle, flashlight, raincoat, rain boots, small notebooks and ballpens, and first-aid kits.
This came following a barangay tanod’s fatal shooting of a person in Tondo, Manila.
Año said if a barangay tanod feels that he is in a potentially dangerous situation, he can always seek the help of the local police or other barangay tanods.
“Hindi sana humantong sa pamamaril at pagkamatay ng curfew violator kung hindi armado ang tanod at kung kumilos siya nang naaayon lamang sa katungkulan niya (The incident could not have resulted in the shooting and death of a curfew violator if the tanod was not armed and if he only acted based on the scope of his duties),” he said.
Based on police reports, Cesar Panlaqui, a tanod of Barangay 156 in Tondo, allegedly gunned down Eduardo Geñoga along Tayuman Street last Aug. 7, after the latter allegedly approached him with a stick.
Filing of charges
Meanwhile, DILG spokesperson Undersecretary Jonathan E. Malaya reminded barangay tanods not to be reckless and hotheaded in dealing with curfew violators and enforcing quarantine regulations.
“While we want the public to abide by health protocols, hindi dapat pairalin ang init ng ulo at maging padalos-dalos sa pagpapatupad ng mga regulasyon. Ang lahat naman ay madadaan sa maayos na paalala at pakikipag-usap (Hotheadedness and haphazard acts should have no place in the enforcement of regulations. Everything can be settled through proper reminder and exchange),” he said.
Malaya said the Philippine National Police (PNP) is already investigating the incident and is set to file murder charges against the erring barangay tanod.
“Hindi natin palalampasin ang pagmamalabis sa tungkulin ng mga barangay tanod o ng sinumang lokal na opisyal na umaabuso sa kanilang tungkulin (We will not tolerate abuse of power among barangay tanods or any local officials). Let this be a reminder to our fellow public servants, our barangay tanods, to stick to the letter of the law as they enforce health protocols during the pandemic,” he added.
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