The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has warned that priests found carrying guns for self-protection, even those facing actual death threats, will face sanctions.
The CBCP’s rationale is that priests and bishops are supposed to be men of peace, and it runs against the grain of that dogma for them to be armed.
This point of view is rather myopic considering that our gun control law – Republic Act 10591 – includes men of the cloth among those who may legally carry firearms outside of their residence without proving their lives are actually under threat.
Under RA 10591, two groups of people who may apply for permits to carry firearms are: 1) those who are actually facing threats; and 2) those whose professions put them in “imminent danger.”
Priests and church ministers belong to the second category, as do lawyers, certified public accountants, accredited media practitioners, cashiers, bank tellers, physicians, nurses, and engineers.
Businessmen who, “by the nature of their business or undertaking, are exposed to high risk of being targets of criminal elements” are also considered to be in “imminent danger.”
Those in the first group will have to actually prove that their lives are in danger by, among other means, filing police reports on attempts already made on their personal safety.
The CBCP, just like any organization operating under the laws of the land, can impose rules and regulation on those under it but only insofar as those internal rules do not run counter with the law and do not infringe on personal freedoms.
The right to self-preservation is an inherent human right guaranteed by the Constitution. For this reason, the law recognizes the right to self defense and the right of each individual to have the means to defend one’s self.
The CBCP should not be so rigid as to take away from member-priests the opportunity to avail of what the law (RA 10591) has granted them – the opportunity not to be like meek lambs being led to a slaughter.
At the very least, the CBCP should treat the threats to its members on a case-to-case basis. This is not to say that priests should be armed, but to remind church leaders to be open-minded and revisit many of their outdated dogmas.
CONCEPT NEWS CENTRAL