By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte is willing to arm barangay officials and even go to jail to protect them if they are serious in combatting illegal drugs and crime.
And if they end up killed in the line of duty, the President said he was prepared to go as far as launch “resbak” or revenge against the culprits.
“I might consider arming you. If I think in my assessment and evaluation, at tatanungin ko yung pulis pati yung intelligence community, if you are really into it, I will support you. And I may grant you possession and to carry your firearms,” he said during the oath-taking of newly elected barangay chairmen from Central Luzon in Clark, Pampanga.
“Kung sakali man na kayo’y madisgrasya, magtatanong ako at reresbak ako. Tandaan ninyo yan [And in case you meet a tragic end, I will ask around and I will avenge you. Remember that],” he added.
In case barangay officials face lawsuits while performing their duty, the President assured that he was ready to intervene and support their cause.
“Pag napasubo kayo, hindi ko kayo pabayaan [If you get in trouble, I will not abandon you]. Just like the police and the military, pag [in the] performance of duty, I will never never really liked the sight of the law enforcement agency or a barangay captain going to jail. Mag iintervene ako [I will intervene],” he said.
“You will have my support and I will take the cudgels for you. Hindi ako papayag [I will not allow it]. As President, I’m willing to go to jail if need be,” he added.
The President has expressed his all-out support for the barangay officials despite earlier concerns that many of them were involved in illegal drugs. He earlier opposed the conduct of the barangay elections due to fears that drug money was used to elect certain officials.
In his remarks in Clark, the President urged the barangay officials to step up the anti-drug efforts, such as the establishment and operation of the respective barangay anti drug abuse council.
He told them to set aside personal interests and to “selflessly and tirelessly” fulfill their duties and responsibilities.
“We owe it to the FIlipino people to serve with humility and lead with integrity,” he said.
“Our fight against criminality, corruption and illegal drugs continues,” he added.
The President first raised the proposed arming of barangay officials during another oath-taking ceremony of barangay officials of Region VII in Cebu province last week. He however said he would still discuss with matter with Interior and Local Government acting Secretary Eduardo Año.