De Lima rejects proposed arming of priests

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has expressed strong opposition to any proposal to allow priests to carry firearms in order to protect themselves against their potential assailants.

De Lima, a known human rights defender, said such a move would merely transform members of the clergy into potential killers, and therefore, an abomination that can only happen under a government that promotes violence more than anything else.

“Priests are not gunslingers. If priests are going to carry guns to protect themselves from the culture of killing spawned by Duterte, they should have chosen another profession,” she said in her latest Dispatch from Crame No. 327.

“We cannot imagine shepherds of the faithful packing heat ready to shoot from the hip at human beings. This is just the opposite of any religious vocation,” she added.

PNP Spokesperson Senior Supt. Benigno Durana earlier proposed for priests to apply for a gun permit. PNP Director General Oscar D. Albayalde said he sees nothing wrong for priests to be given license to carry guns if their lives are in danger.

The proposed arming of priests came in the wake of recent incidents where priests were shot dead by unidentified assailants. They are Fr. Richmond Nilo who was killed on June 10, Fr. Mark Ventura on April 28, and Fr. Marcelito Paez, on Dec. 4, 2017.

Instead of arming the priests, the former justice secretary said Duterte should stop demonizing the members of the clergy and inciting hatred and violence against them.

“Duterte has done nothing for the past several weeks except to demonize the Catholic Church and its priests. He personally distributes anti-church literature and encourages his audience to convert to the Iglesia ni Rodrigo and its demented gospel,” she said.

“After the killing of a priest, he shames him with gossip, where the malicious character assassination of the victim is used to justify his murder, much like the tagging of supposed drug offenders is used to justify their extra-judicial execution,” she added.

De Lima said the public should work together in disarming Duterte of his arsenal of violence and hatred that has enabled him to inflict pain among the Filipino people.

“We should not look any further in our search for who is responsible for enabling the murderers of priests,” she said.

“Instead of arming priests, we should start disarming Duterte of his arsenal of violence and hatred that has enabled him to inflict so much pain and hurt among the Filipino people as never before experienced in our history,” she added.

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