By Raymund Antonio
Vice President Ma. Leonor “Leni” Robredo on Monday opposed the proposed arming of village officials to make them more effective as peacekeepers in the government’s anti-crime campaign.
At the oath-taking of newly-elected village and youth council officials in Naga City, Robredo said she does not support such proposal since arming village captains is not part of their mandate.
“Hindi ako pabor, kasi hindi naman iyon iyong mandato ng barangay officials. Iyong mga barangay officials, iyong nagpe-perform ng executive functions sa barangay,” she said in an interview.
(I am not in favor because that is not the mandate of village officials. The village officials are the ones who perform the executive functions in local villages.)
Robredo, widow of late Naga Mayor and Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, countered giving guns to village officials given the country’s peacekeeping institutions.
“Mayroon tayong pulis, mayroon tayong mga sundalo. Mayroon tayong kaniya-kaniyang roles sa ating community. Iyong pagdadala ng armas, hindi iyon iyong kasagutan sa peace and order,” she told reporters.
(We have police; we have soldiers. We have our respective roles in the community. The carrying of guns is not the answer to ensure peace and order.)
“Maraming ibang paraan para panatilihin iyong peace and order, na hindi mo kailangang armasan iyong mga barangay officials,” Robredo added.
(There are other ways to maintain peace and order that you don’t have to arm village officials.)
The Vice President spoke to newly-elected village captains and youth council officials who took their oath in her presence at the Naga City Hall.
In her message, she urged them to remain true to their task of serving their communities.
Robredo, a former Camarines Sur representative, believes there is a need to extend the term of village officials from three to five years in order not to politicize the village elections.
“Iyong ating paniniwala, hindi makakabuti sa taumbayan na masyadong politicized iyong barangay elections, iyong pag-elect ng barangay officials, gaya ng nangyayari ngayon. At habang ganito kadalas iyong eleksyon – dahil three years iyong term of office nila – hindi talaga malalayo sa ganoon na danger,” said the Vice President.
(My belief is that it is not good for the people the barangay elections are too politicized like what is happening. And while elections are frequent – because their term of office is three years – they are not far from that kind of danger.)
Before she became vice president, Robredo had proposed a bill extending the terms of office of village officials from three years to five years during the time she was still a member of the 16th Congress, but this did not prosper.