Pangasinan village chiefs seeking permission to arm themselves

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan — Amid the successive incidents of killing of barangay (village) chairmen in Pangasinan, those who took over from them and their other colleagues are now seeking permission from higher authorities to arm themselves.

This was bared by ex-officio Provincial Board Member and Liga ng mga Barangay Provincial Federation president Jinky Zaplan who said from December 2016 to mid-January in 2017 alone, three barangay chairmen as well as three councilmen of Pangasinan were already killed.

There were more of these officials who were killed and even arrested since the war on drugs began in July last year.

The latest barangay chairman slain was Rolando Seguban Mejia, 59, of Calaocan in San Nicolas who was gunned down by unidentified suspects while he was on board his motorcycle that stopped in one portion of the road.

Zaplan, however, revealed reports she gathered that politics and not illegal drugs, was tagged as the motive in the slaying of Mejia.

In defense to some of her colleagues who died, Zaplan maintained that not all barangay officials were killed due to illegal drugs as the others were killed for other reasons.

There were also some barangay captains, particularly from Bayambang town, who were arrested for allegedly being high-value targets on illegal drugs and are still in jail.

In September last year, a barangay captain was killed in San Carlos City when he fought with policemen who served a search warrant in his house in Barangay Tayambani in connection with his involvement in illegal drugs and gun-for hire activities.

Another barangay captain and his henchman, both allegedly into drugs, were ambushed by unidentified gunmen in Urdaneta while the Liga ng mga Barangay chair in Alaminos City was gunned down and killed. Both of these incidents happened last year.

Zaplan said because of these, many of her fellow barangay chairmen/chairwomen are now alarmed and are now seeking to arm themselves.

She said they will convey their request to Police Provincial Director Ronald Oliver Lee when he becomes their guest of honor and speaker during the first monthly meeting of the Liga ng Barangay Provincial Federation by the end of this month.

Zaplan said they will ask for specific guidelines from the police provincial director on what to do under the situation.

She recalled that barangay chairmen of Pangasinan were issued their respective shotguns in 2007 but sometime before the election in 2013, these were deposited to the police in Pangasinan for safekeeping and were never given back.

These Akkar shotguns were purchased by the Pangasinan provincial government for use of barangay chairmen in order to protect their villages from trouble-makers, including thieves and cattle rustlers.

“Now these shotguns (one each to every barangay chairmen) are rusting and being so, we would like these to be donated to the PNP to at least boost their firepower,” Zaplan said.

She said, however, that they will ask the provincial under Governor Amado “Pogi” Espino III to buy them new firearms so that they can protect themselves from criminal elements who may want to harm them and their people. Leonardo Micua/PNA-northboundasia.com