Should reporters carry guns?
- It is the duty of the State to protect the people, not ours (media). What else will police and other police officials do if the citizenry is armed?
- Experience has taught us that arming journalists does not save and secure them from harm. Significant number of journalists killed were armed.
- Arming journalists will not solve media killings, but good police work, arrest, prosecution and punishment of triggermen and masterminds will.
- As a whole, the bill will aggravate impunity in media and extrajudicial killings in the country, encourage the proliferation of loose firearms and increase the incidence of violence…until one day we wake up to a state of chaos and anarchy…unless we are preparing for war?
Bishop Efraim Tendero, national director of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Christians (PCEC), shares some of Fernandez's views.
“I’m not in favor of arming the media or religious people to stop extra-judicial killings and forced disappearances because it will only result in “tooth for a tooth” and “eye for an eye,” he explained.
Tendero neither believes the bill will solve criminality and disregard for life.
“Love is still more powerful than hatred and peace should be pursued, not barrels of guns,” he noted.
If the Senate Bill is passed, the Bishop says it’s an indication of “something else.”
“Arming civilians is actually like preparing a time like a civil war. It’s also trying to admit that the police is not capable of carrying out its mandate to protect the country’s citizenry. It is they who are the duly-constituted people who should carry arms,” he said.
Tendero hastened to add that owning or carrying a firearm may even be cause for someone to be an easy target by unscrupulous people.
The solution which the Bishop sees is dialogue. In 2006, when there was an escalation in the number of crimes committed against religious leaders, he (representing PCEC), along with other church leaders under the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, met with former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and lodged their concern.
Tendero said almost immediately, the former Chief Executive called the officials of the National Bureau of Investigation, the police and even the Melo Commission, to help stop the rise in criminal incidence against religious leaders.
“From then on, there was a dramatic drop…around 80 percent…in the incidence of crimes committed against religious leaders. From 2007 up to now, there seems to be a steady decline in these cases,” Tendero noted.
Indeed, their group, a “church-police-miliatry liaison committee” seemed to have worked quite effectively or may be construed as functional to this day.
To the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), however, it may be a different story.
Just in October last year, another priest was killed in a province in Southern Philippines (Mindanao).
Fr. Fausto Tentorio was shot eight times by an assassin as he was getting into his pick-up truck parked at the Mother of Perpetual Help Church compound in Arakan, North Cotabato.