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CBCP rejects plan to arm priests in wake of attacks

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines on Tuesday opposed the idea of arming priests as a protective measure in the wake of the series attacks on clergymen.

CBCP President Romulo Valles said it is part of the clergyman’s life to face danger and be killed as a result of his mission. 

“I would strongly oppose arming the priest,” Valles said in a radio interview over Church-owned Radyo Veritas.

“We are men of God, men of the Church and it is part of our ministry to face danger, to face death. We would do it just as Jesus did,” 

The idea came from several Church members to take advantage of a 2014 law allowing journalists, priests, lawyers, doctors, nurses, accountants and engineers to carry firearms outside their homes.

In other developments:

• Representatives Carlos Zarate and Ariel Casilao on Tuesday assailed the Philippine National Police for downplaying the killing of priests. 

National Police Chief Oscar Albayalde was earlier quoted as saying that the killing of priests was “isolated” and that it should not be a cause for concern.

“This is really inexcusable, even revolting, coming no less from the PNP chief who, in the same breath, also said that there are around 1,000 rogue cops who are armed and dangerous,” Zarate said.

• The Philippine National Police on Tuesday denied it was downplaying the recent spate of killings of priests, saying the police force was “working doubly hard to solve it.”

“We are not downplaying the killings of priests, though isolated, but we are in fact working doubly hard to solve it,” PNP spokesman Benigno Durana Jr. said in a statement.

“But this and other crime incidents do not reflect the actual crime situation in the entire country.”

Military Ordinariate Administrator Bishop Oscar Jaime Florencio seconded Valles, saying arming clergymen would only create chaos.

 ‘‘It will create more chaos, it will not solve anything,’’ Florencio said.

CBCP executive secretary Jerome Secillano said the proposal would not solve anything.

“Arming priests is not a solution to the crimes against them,” Secillano said.

He said there was no need for priests to arm themselves because, like ordinary citizens, they were entitled to protection from the government.

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

On Sunday, gunmen killed a Catholic priest in Nueva Ecija less than a week after another priest was hurt in a shooting attack in Laguna province.

The unidentified suspects shot dead Father Nilo of the Diocese of Cabanatuan around 5 pm while he was about to celebrate Mass in the chapel of Mayamot village in Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija.

Initial reports revealed the suspects fled to an unknown direction using a car.

Nilo was the third priest killed in the country in six months following the killing of Mark Ventura in Gattaran, Cagayan, on April 29 and Marcelito Paez in Jaen, Nueva Ecija, on Dec. 4.

On June 6,  Rey Urmeneta of the St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Calamba was wounded after being shot by unidentified suspects.

Urmeneta, a former police chaplain, suffered wounds to his left upper back and left arm and was rushed to a nearby hospital for treatment.

Topics: Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines , CBCP President Romulo Valles , Philippine National Police
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