Braganza slams policy on shotguns for kapitans


PROTEST CONTINUES

ALAMINOS CITY–This is not a war zone.

This was Mayor Hernani Braganza referring to both his city and the province as he severely criticized anew the provincial government’s program arming barangay leaders with shotguns ostensibly for the latter’s protection and to help “maintain peace and order”.

In a press conference on Thursday at Lucap Wharf, Braganza minced no words in denouncing the program as he anticipated the misuse of the issued firearm by the barangay officials.

Underscoring his opposition, Braganza cited the Philippine National Police’s own policy that it would not agree to arming civilians with shotguns even in strife-torn Mindanao.

“If the PNP is not keen on arming the civilians to fight the rebels in Mindanao, why are we doing this in our province,” Braganza posed.

Despite being the lone voice opposing the shotgun distribution, Braganza maintained his stand that his city does not need shotguns because Alaminos, like the rest of Pangasinan, remains a friendly and peaceful city.

He reiterated his appeal to the Governor Amado Espino Jr. to re-issue the shotguns instead to the province’s local police stations known to be poorly equipped.

Braganza clarified he has nothing personal against the governor to whom he is indebted for saving his life when he was still a young activist in the mid 70s and Espino was then the Metrodiscom commander of the then Philippine Constabulary in Angeles City.

“We are not against the distribution of the shotguns per se,” said Braganza, pointing out that the shotguns should instead be issued to the police, who needs these more in its fight against criminality.

He stressed that the preservation of peace and order is the primary job of the Philippine National Police, and it is duty of civilian officials from mayor down to barangay captain, to govern, preventing crimes in their respective jurisdictions, without the use of guns.

ARMED ALAMINOS kapitans

The provincial government said that as of September 19, about 99 percent of the 1,330 barangay chairmen of Pangasinan were already issued one pump shotgun each.

Included were 15 of the 39 kapitans of Alaminos who, Braganza said, were personally invited by Espino to Lingayen without any coordination with his office.

The 15, the mayor said, defied the resolution of the city council headed by Vice Mayor Teofilo Humilde Jr. which adopted it in its regular session of September 5 expressing vigorous objection to the distribution of shotguns to local barangay captains.

Braganza said the city legal office is now preparing letters to the 15 barangay captains who received the shotguns, asking them to explain why they defied the city council resolution and his order not to receive the shotguns.

However, he said that of the 15 barangay captains, five have already expressed their desire to return the issued shotguns to the provincial government through the local police.

The same resolution had appealed to Espino to issue the shotguns to the local police instead.

However, he said he is still giving the 15 a chance to turn the weapons over to Liga ng mga Barangay president Helen Bumagat, barangay captain of Amandiego, who in turn will return the same to the capitol.

Humilde also read a manifesto from Alaminos City officials restating that Alaminos City attained unprecedented progress and peace “not by arming our barangay officials and civilians” during the press conference.

Braganza said it is the responsibility of the mayors like him to provide the barangay captains with all the tools and equipment, like vehicles, which they need to carry out their mandate “but never shall we give them guns”.

Braganza pointed out that only policemen should be made to respond to situations where crime perpetrators are armed.

GUIDELINES

Braganza echoed the observation of his fellow mayor, Domingo Doctor of Burgos, that the shotguns were issued without any guidelines at all.

Doctor, a lawyer and former military officer, even had to seek general guidelines governing the shotguns from no less than incoming Police Director General Jesus Verzosa, since the barangay captains were only given insufficient training to handle guns.

The city mayor expressed doubt that a mere memorandum receipt issued by the provincial government can take the place of a license or a permit to carry firearms.

He said licensing is a strict requisite for any holder of firearms set forth by law which must apply to all, and cited a need for the holder of firearms to secure clearances and undergo neuro-psychiatric test and even drug test before an application to hold firearms is approved by the PNP.

Councilor Cirilo Radoc, a lawyer, said once the firearm is used to commit a crime, both the barangay chairman and whosoever issued the firearm become criminally liable.

Braganza said he himself is a gun-owner, being a member of a gun club but his license to own and his permit to carry the same outside of his residence is not transferable to any city or barangay official.

He cited it as an analogy where license to own the shotguns belongs to the province and not to the barangay chairmen.—LM (SundayPunch)

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