By Argyll Cyrus Geducos and Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte urged the country’s newly elected barangay officials to do their part in protecting the Filipinos from illegal drugs and terrorism, warning incompetent village leaders that charges will be filed against them.
Duterte made the statement as he swore in the new village leaders in the Zamboanga Peninsula in Molave, Zamboanga del Sur.
“Trabaho kayo. Bigyan ko kayo ng armas (You do your job. I will give you arms). But I want terrorism and drugs [eradicated]. I will have an audit. And if you are not at par, I will file charges against you for incompetence. Ayawkonggawain ‘yan (I don’t want to do that),” he said.
“You have to defend the country. You protect the people of the Republic of the Philippines. ‘Yan angtrabahoko, trabahoninyo, trabahonatinglahat (That is our job). I expect you to, of course, give your best,” he added.
President Duterte, visibly frustrated with the crime incidence in the country, also challenged the local government and barangay officials to resign with him after a survey showed 1.5 million Filipino families fell victim to common crimes in the first quarter of 2018.
“Pag ganito, wala ako silbi, I’ll ask you to join me, mag-resign nalang ta [If it’s like this, I’m useless. I’ll ask you to join me, let’s just resign],” he said in his remarks.
“There seems to be a semblance of a republic and a nation but inside, it’s topsy-turvy. It’s crime-ridden,” he said, after reading the survey results.
He noted that the survey also indicated that “people are usually afraid to go out at night or to walk the streets because of street crimes.”
To keep the people safe, the President urged the local government executives and barangay officials to help the government in the anti-crime drive, saying he could not do it alone.
He bewailed the “nonchalant” attitude of most local government units in addressing crimes in their places.
“Hindi ko kaya itong Republika na ito napatakbuhin kung wala kayo [I cannot run the Republic without you],” he said.
“If that’s the case, I’ll just resign since I have no partner in the job],” he added in Bisaya.
Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson supported Duterte’s call.
Local government unit (LGU) officials are responsible and accountable for the breakdown of peace and order in their jurisdictions, Lacson said.
Lacson, a former national police chief, emphasized that President Duterte, who is also the commander-in-chief and who has vast resources of the country’s security forces at his disposal, “cannot do it alone, especially in addressing common crimes.”
“Each and every LGU executive at all levels must do their part. Peace and order in the communities should be on the account of their respective local executives,” said Lacson, chairman of the Senate Public Order and Dangerous Drugs Committee.
The Chief Executive raised anew the plan of arming barangay officials. He, however, said he would have to consult with the members of the Cabinet first.
He also clarified that the officials would not be given high-powered guns.
“I will consult the Cabinet pero ang aking (but here is my) proposal, no heavy firearm. Shotgun lang,” he said.
Since the first barangay elections under his administration concluded last month, Duterte has been swearing in those who won in the polls.
Duterte has been calling barangay officials to support the government as his administration confronts the scourge of illegal drugs, corruption and criminality.
“It’s not a threat, it’s just an advice. I am pleading that you are with government now kindly be one, or be responsible for your mandates sataong-lungsod (to the people),” he had earlier addressed village chiefs of Central Visayas.
Earlier this week, Duterte put the barangay officials to task when he asked them to help in carrying out his anti-tambay directive by accosting street idlers, particularly minors.
Duterte said it is the obligation of barangay chairpersons to ensure the safety of the youth in their communities. He added that they would have to deliver the minors who will be taken into custody back to their parents immediately the following morning.
“That is the obligation of the police, the barangay chairpersons. ‘Pag minors, damputinmotalaga (If you see minors, you really round them up),” he said.
“Do your duty. You are the leaders of your barangays. If you cannot do it, kungmataasang crime rate niyo (if you have a high crime rate), then I will charge you with neglect,” he added. (With a report from Mario Casayuran)