Duterte mulls arming village chiefs for war on drugs

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 13) — President Rodrigo Duterte is considering arming barangay chiefs and officials who are keen on fighting crime and illegal drugs.

"I might consider arming you if I think in my assessment and evaluation, at tatanungin ko 'yung [and I will ask the] police and 'yung intelligence community. If you are really into it, (fighting) crime, I will support you. I will grant you possession and to carry your firearms," Duterte told the barangay chairmen taking their oath in Region III Tuesday.

The President added he will intervene should anyone file a case against the village leaders while doing their job.

"Remember this. Pag nagka-atraso kayo [If you get in trouble], and there is a case filed against you and you think you are in the performance of your duty as a barangay (captain) tapos napatay mo o nabugbog mo. Do not be afraid. The only thing i ask of you is.. Kung mali mo, huwag ka nang lumapit sa akin [If you're the one who committed the mistake, don't seek for my assistance]," he said.

If a barangay captain is killed in the fight against crime and illegal drugs, Duterte said he may even look into the case and take action against the culprits.

"Hindi ko kayo pababayaan. At kung sakali man at kayo'y madisgrasya, magtatanong ako. Magtatanong ako at reresbak ako," he said.

[Translation: I will not let you down. If you get harmed, I will ask and then plan retaliation.]

Duterte first made the proposal to arm the captains against illegal drugs in a speech with barangay officials in Region VII last week.

"I said, no corruption, kita man mong tanan. I'm doing it. Ingon ko nga droga, kita man mo. Maayo unta'g makakuan ko. Ambot lang, magsabot pa mi ni General Año og musugot ba siya nga armasan mo," Duterte previously said.

[Translation: I said no corruption. You saw that I?m working against corruption and drugs. I don?t know if you can — General Año and I will discuss giving you arms.]

Liga ng mga Barangay (League of Villages) President Edmund Abesamis said Duterte's plan has been long provided by the law, under the Local Government Code of 1991.

"The problem is in the implementation of the provision of the law. The applicants, the Punong Barangays (village chiefs), applying for license and permit to carry still undergo the usual process," he said. .

Under the Local Government Code, "the Punong Barangay shall be entitled to possess and carry the necessary firearm within his territorial jurisdiction, subject to appropriate rules and regulations."

Abesamis said the implementation will ease the reluctance of most village chiefs to disclose information on drug suspects — since the captains become targets of the criminal.

CNN Philippines' Ina Andolong and Chad de Guzman contributed to this report.