Philippine church leaders give thumbs down to arming priests

arming priests

Church leaders in the Philippines have opposed the idea of arming priests as a protection measure in the wake of recent attacks on members of the clergy.

Calls have come from several quarters for priests to take advantage of a 2014 law allowing journalists, priests, lawyers, doctors, nurses, accountants and engineers to carry firearms outside their homes.

The calls come after three recent shooting incidents involving priests.

“Arming priests is not a solution to crimes against them,” said Father Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the Public Affairs Committee of the bishops’ conference.

He said there is no need for priests to arm themselves because, like any ordinary citizen, they are also entitled to protection from the government.

“If [priests] antagonise other people, killing them is unnecessarily excessive and brutal,” said Father Secillano, adding that priests should never be considered as “enemies”.

The country’s Justice Secretary, meanwhile, said he intends to include in next year’s proposed budget for his department funding for the purchase of firearms for prosecutors.

Menardo Guevarra said the move is in response to the killing of prosecutors in recent months, especially in the provinces.

He made the announcement following the killing of a prosecutor during a robbery incident in Quezon City on June 4.

At least seven prosecutors have been killed in the past two years, according to police.

Prior to the 2014 law, people like priests and prosecutors, like any other citizen, were required to prove they were “under actual threat” before being issued a special permit to carry firearms.

Now, all that is required is that they pass a drug and psychiatric test and prove they have no pending criminal case punishable by two or more years in jail and no prior convictions.

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News category: Asia Pacific.

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