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Over 200 priests and pastors applied for gun permits

MANILA (UCAN): Nearly 250 Filipino priests and pastors have applied for permits to carry firearms however, many did so before the recent spate of priest murders, according to Oscar Albayalde, the national police chief.
Of 246 permit applications filed with the Philippine National Police over the last year, 188 came from Catholic priests while 58 came from Protestant pastors and ministers.
“We may accommodate requests for (a permit to carry firearms outside of residences) by duly qualified gun holders among members of the clergy and leaders of religious congregations,” Albayalde said.
Albayalde said the police are willing to assist priests who want to carry firearms.
“We are also amenable to taking the extra step of providing firearms proficiency and marksmanship training to religious leaders who wish to own and possess firearms,” the police chief said.
The country’s Catholic bishops, however, have voiced disapproval (Sunday Examiner, June 17). The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has issued a saying, “We are men of God, men of the Church and it is part of our ministry to face dangers, to face death if one may say it that way.” 
Under gun ownership laws, priests are among people, including journalists, lawyers, and medical practitioners, who can carry firearms.
The law, however, requires those applying for firearms permits to prove that they are “under actual threat.”
Bishop Buenaventura Famadico of San Pablo, south of Manila, announced this in late June that his diocese has banned members of the clergy from carrying firearms.
The bishop said he is seeking the help of the police in disposing of guns owned by some priests.
He admitted that some clergymen owned firearms before the priest killings took place.
He also clarified a report claiming that some priests in the diocese were arming themselves for protection as a result of the priest murders.
“It’s not true they armed themselves because of (the killing). They already had (guns) way before,” the bishop said.
However, he said that the clergy in his diocese have since implemented a policy about owning or carrying firearms.
“We came up with a common policy. Each will not own a gun,” said the bishop, adding, “Personally, I do not approve of priests owning a gun for whatever purpose.” 

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