In light of the violence being directed at priests and churches and following the murder of Fr. Richmond Nilo, at least 200 Catholic priests as well as Protestant ministers have submitted requests to carry firearms:
Over 200 priests and preachers from other religious denominations want to carry firearms, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde revealed yesterday.
According to Albayalde, the PNP received requests for permit to carry firearms outside residence (PTCFOR) from 188 Catholic priests and 58 ministers, preachers and pastors from June 2017 to June 2018.
“As a policy and by the power vested in me as the approving authority for PTCFOR, we may accommodate requests for PTCFOR by duly qualified gun holders among members of the clergy and leaders of religious congregations, subject to their compliance with the minimum requirements,” Albayalde said.
The PNP chief did not say if any of the applications has been approved.
Albayalde, however, added there were some requests following the barangay elections last month.
He made the announcement a week after Fr. Richmond Nilo was shot dead while about to hold mass in Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija.
Nilo’s murder raised concerns among the clergy as he was the third priest to be gunned down in six months.
Last May, Fr. Mark Anthony Ventura was shot dead by an unidentified gunman after celebrating mass in Gattaran, Cagayan.
In December last year, Fr. Marcelino Paez was also shot dead after assisting in the release of a prisoner in Jaen, also in Nueva Ecija.
Albayalde clarified that the PNP is not aware if the religious leaders seeking gun permits have received death threats.
Just like other applicants, Albayalde said leaders of religious groups must undergo the process of obtaining firearms.
“We are also amenable to taking the extra step of providing firearms proficiency and marksmanship to religious leaders who wish to own and possess firearms,” he said.
Under the new gun ownership law, priests are among the professionals who are allowed to carry firearms.
Aside from priests, other professions listed under the law signed by former president Benigno Aquino III in 2014 include journalists, certified public accountants, prosecutors and medical practitioners.
The law requires the professionals to prove they were “under actual threat” before being issued special permit to carry firearms.
Despite the privileges given to priests, Church leaders said men of the cloth do not need to carry firearms for protection.
Lipa, Batangas Archbishop Ramon Arguelles said priests are not supposed to be afraid to face danger.
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines president and Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles said priests always face the danger of death in the exercise of their profession. (source)