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ICC Note: In response to the recently killings of priests in the Philippines, calls have been made to arm priests as a protective measure. However, church leaders criticize the proposal, stating that arming priests is not the solution to crimes against them. Philippines has seen three priests fatally shot in the last six months, with only one priest survived the murder attempts.

06/11/2018 China (Herald Malaysia) – Church leaders in the Philippines criticised a proposal to arm priests as a protective measure in the wake of recent attacks on clergy members.

Calls have come from several quarters for Priests to take advantage of a 2014 law allowing journalists, priests, lawyers, doctors, nurses, accountants and engineers to carry firearms outside their homes.

The calls come after three recent shooting incidents involving priests.In the most recent case June 6, Fr Rey Urmeneta, 64, who serves at a parish in Calamba City about 25 miles north of Manila, survived a gun attack by two assailants.He was the third priest to have been shot since December.

In April, Fr Mark Ventura from Gattaran in the northern Philippines died after being shot by a lone gunman shortly after celebrating Sunday Mass and in December Fr Marcelito Paez was shot dead in Jaen, about 75 miles north of Manila.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, however, expressed strong opposition to the idea of arming priests. “Arming priests is not a solution to crimes against them,” said Fr Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the bishops’ Public Affairs Committee.

He said there is no need for priests to arm themselves because, like any ordinary citizen, they are also entitled to protection from the government.

“If (priests) antagonise other people, killing them is unnecessarily excessive and brutal,” said Fr Secillano, adding that priests should never be considered as “enemies.”

Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon said priests get their protection from “angels, not weapons.”

“I am for a gunless society. We priests are not afraid of dangers. If the public, especially the poor, are exposed to dangers, we cannot be less,” said retired Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa.

Bishop Honesto Ongtioco of Cubao said a priest’s “vocation and role in the transformation of society” is different from other people.

“Our security is more on what we do, how we interact and live with people,” he said.

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