Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa on Tuesday instructed all policemen to arrest barangay tanod (village watchmen) illegally carrying firearms in their localities.
The order came after an incident in December last year involving 10 policemen in Mandaluyong City who mistakenly fired at a vehicle, killing two persons.
“First of all, these watchmen, they are not authorized to carry guns. Right now, I am giving instructions to all members of the PNP to arrest all armed village watchmen,” de la Rosa said in a news conference at Camp Crame in Quezon City.
“Magalit na kung magalit ‘yung mga mayor diyan na bossing ng mga tanod na ‘yan, wala akong pakialam [The mayors who are the bosses of these watchmen can get mad, I don’t care],” he added.
The PNP chief explained that if a watchman has a permit to carry firearms outside of residence (PTCFOR), it is legal for him to bear firearms.
“But if [the watchmen]do not have that [PTCFOR] and they will only invoke that they are village watchmen… that’s illegal, so I am giving instructions to all chiefs of police to [arrest]these watchmen carrying firearms, it’s illegal,” de la Rosa said.
The PNP chief added that the watchmen are only authorized to carry nightsticks while making rounds in their respective areas.
He noted contributions made by the watchmen in maintaining peace and order but said if they will be the source of problems, it will not be tolerated, especially by the police.
“If they will be able to obtain a PTCFOR, then they cannot be charged with illegal possession of firearms [but]they will be charged with homicide if they will be the first ones to shoot,” de la Rosa said.