MANILA - The law allows barangay chiefs to possess firearms, Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Martin Diño insisted Thursday amid opposition by some lawmakers to the proposal.
Speaking to ANC, Diño said the 1991 Local Government Code clearly states that village leaders are allowed to possess and carry firearms in performance of their peace and order functions.
He said barangay chiefs play a key role in President Rodrigo Duterte's war against drugs and criminality, which puts them at risk.
"Pag may gulo, pagpasok ng barangay captain, ang kasama niya mga tanod. Hindi naman agad pulis. Unang-una, pag malayo ang barangay sa presinto, kawawa ang constituents kung pababayaan ni kapitan o kung maghihintay pa ng pulis o sundalo," he said.
Based on his "assessment and evaluation," Duterte earlier said he was considering arming barangay chiefs to ensure their protection in the war on drugs and criminality.
But opposition lawmakers slammed the President's plan, calling it a "recipe for disaster" that may result to a "wild, wild west" scenario of private armies.
But Diño allayed these fears and assured that barangay chiefs will be armed based on rules and regulation. He added that village leaders in the narco-list will not be allowed to carry firearms.
"Kaya nga ngayon, puwede mo nang ireklamo ang mga umaabusong barangay captain," said Diño, who admitted carrying firearms when he was a village chief.