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Firearms for tanods?

First Posted 08:45:00 03/09/2008

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Cebu City barangay captains have revived a request to let tanods carry guns in the aftermath of the killing of 20-year-old nursing student Ruby Jade Ruba, who was gunned down by a holdupper on the street in Capitol Site.

Some tanods carry night sticks or batuta but these are ?useless? against an armed hoodlum, said Eugenio ?Jingjing? Faelnar, president of the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) of Cebu City.

?It's cheaper to train tanods to help in law enforcement than hire new policemen,? he added.

Tanods are local residents tapped by the barangay for neighborhood patrols and minor peacekeeping tasks.

The proposal would need the approval of the Philippine National Police (PNP), however, since only barangay captains are authorized to carry guns under the Local Government Code.

The rash of street holdups and other crimes in the city were mentioned in yesterday?s quarterly meeting of the ABC in Cebu City.

?Simbako atong mga anak o pag-umangkon ang sunod nga ma biktima (God forbid if our children or nieces would be the next victims of criminals.) We have to come up with united stand on this,? Faelnar said.

Police are under pressure to solve the latest case, a March 5 cellphone snatching that ended in the fatal shooting of Ruba, a nursing student student from Leyte, who was due to graduate on March 3O.

Governor Roa street where she was attacked was unlighted because of a busted street lamp and was not part of the route of regular police patrols.

No suspects were arrested yet although police are waiting for a witness to take a close look at two men arrested for the shooting and armed holdup of a foreign national in a neighboring barangay two hours after Ruba?s killing.

?We will be asking the PNP if it?s okay to arm the tanods because ang crimes nagka grabe na. Alarming na kaayo. Ang mga kriminal mo patay na gyud,? said Faelnar.

Faelnar said he spoke with Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, who was willing to help in the gun training of tanods. They spoke when Faelnar accompanied Vicente Ruba, father of Ruby Jade, in visiting the mayor?s office last Friday to seek assistance for the speedy solution of the student?s death.

Gun handling , safety training and the cost of getting permits and purchasing weapons are some issues to be threshed out.

Busay barangay captain Yody Sanchez said that if they can get an exemption from the LGC limitation, he would support the measure.

He worried about the cost of buying guns since Busay has 30 tanods, with most of them fielded at night on patrol. Sanchez said he preferred giving guns to selected tanods only

Faelnar said he would draft a board resolution on Monday with the request for an exemption addressed to the PNP. They will support the request with the situation of rampant crimes that has affected Cebu City barangays, he said.

The resolution will be presented to the city?s 80 barangay captains for signature before it is submitted to Cebu City Police Director Patrocinio Commendador Jr.

This is not the first time the proposal to arm tanods has been raised.

Pahina Central barangay captain Sisinio Andales, who is also ABC vice president, discussed the same matter with him last year.

?I did not like the idea of tanods carrying guns. Pero karon mura ug nagka grabe na ang panahon. Manulis na ang mga badlungon mo pusil pa gyud,? he said.

Faelnar said he only saw the need to arm tanods following a Feb. 29 robbery in his barangay of Guadalupe. An armed robber, his face covered in a bonnet, took a female employee?s valuables and shot her on the shoulder about 10:30 p.m.

Three tanods stationed near a call center in Banawa responded to the alarm and saw the suspect attack the victim. When they tried to help, the gunman pointed his firearm at the tanods who ran off and took cover. The holdupper got away.

If the tanods were armed, Faelnar said they would have been been able to make an arrest. ?But I will not allow them to be armed if they are not well trained),? Faelnar told CDN.

Since then, Faelnar said he?s started to carry his own .38 caliber revolver whenever he responds to trouble alarms with the tanods. When not in use, the gun stays in a drawer of his barangay hall office, said Faelnar.

Faelnar said he was aware tanods wanted to carry guns for their own protection but that it was best to legalize their possession of firearms first.

Faelnar said he raised this concern during the March meeting of the Police Coordinating and Advisory Council (PCAC) meeting where the police chief sits as member.

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