Over 200 Filipino priests, pastors apply for gun permits

Most however submitted applications before the recent murdres of three Catholic priests
Over 200 Filipino priests, pastors apply for gun permits

Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde has revealed that nearly 250 priests and pastors have applied for permits to carry firearms. (Photo by Angie de Silva)

 

Nearly 250 Filipino priests and pastors have applied for permits to carry firearms, according to the national police chief.

Many however, applied for them before a recent spate of priest murders.

Of 246 permit applications filed with the Philippine National Police over the last year, 188 came from Catholic priests while 58 came from Protestant pastors and ministers.

National police chief Oscar Albayalde made the revelation following the killing of three Catholic priests in the last few months.

"We may accommodate requests for [a permit to carry firearms outside of residences] by duly qualified gun holders among members of the clergy and leaders of religious congregations," said Albayalde.

On June 10, Catholic priest Richmond Villaflor Nilo was killed by a gunman in the province of Nueva Ecija. Father Mark Ventura was also shot dead by a gunman in the province of Cagayan a few days earlier.

In December, Father Marcelito Paez was killed in an ambush also in the province of Nueva Ecija.

Albayalde said the police are willing to assist priests who want to carry firearms.

"We are also amenable to taking the extra step of providing firearms proficiency and marksmanship training to religious leaders who wish to own and possess firearms," said the police chief.

The country's Catholic bishops, however, have voiced disapproval.

Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao, president of the bishops' conference, said he "strongly opposes" arming priests.

Under gun ownership laws, priests are among people, including journalists, lawyers, and medical practitioners, who can carry firearms.

The law, however, requires those applying for firearms permits to prove that they are "under actual threat."

The bishop of San Pablo south of Manila announced this week that his diocese has banned members of the clergy from carrying firearms.

Bishop Buenaventura Famadico of San Pablo said he is seeking the help of the police on how to dispose of guns owned by some priests.

The bishop admitted that some clergymen owned firearms before the priest killings took place.

Earlier, a report said some priests in the diocese were arming themselves for protection as a result of the priest murders. 

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