Formation of security force to protect church questioned

DUMAGUETE CITY – Some local officials here have questioned the legality of the formation of the Parish Volunteer Security Force (PVSF) by five villages during their joint session on Tuesday.

Village chiefs Lilia Batalan of Talay, Jimmy Tabada of Cadawinonan, Maximino Umbac Jr. of Junob, Pilardo Sarte of Cantil-e, and Crispin Patrimonio of Bajumpandan, along with their respective councilors and Sangguniang Kabataan chairmen attended the session.

Prior to the session, five barangays headed by these local officials organized the so-called Parish Volunteer Auxiliary Security Force, mainly to help secure the premises of the San Isidro Labrador Parish Church from burglars and other criminal elements.

This, after parish priest Fr. Bernie Lingcong intimated to the village chiefs the security concerns of the church, asking what their respective barangay tanods could do about it.

City Local Government Operations Officer Aquilina Eltanal, who was also present at the joint session held at the parish conference hall, explained that the concerns of the parish are legitimate and that the barangays concerned were merely invoking provisions of a memorandum circular.

The circular was issued by the Department of the Interior and Local Government to intensify coordination between the church and the villages to maintain peace and order under the Ugnayan ng Barangay at Simbahan (UBAS) program, which would benefit the church and the parishioners.

Furthermore, Eltanal told the joint session that in case of doubts about the issue of jurisdiction, duties and functions of the barangay tanods, and their insurance coverage in case of accidents while on duty, the joint resolution can be submitted for review by the Sangguniang Panlungsod (City Council) of Dumaguete City.

She, however, said that what the five barangays are doing is still within their mandate to ensure the safety of their respective constituencies.

Fr. Lingcong noted that when he became parish priest, he observed desecration of the church, youngsters dating inside the compound, and worse, he said, illegal drugs paraphernalia were recovered in the vicinity.

Among the first to respond to the security concern was Bajumpandan village, where a resolution to this effect was authored by councilor Reu Ismil, chair of the peace and order committee of the barangay seconded by Kagawads Juancho R. Gallarde, Noelito Ramirez, and Felomino Solamillo.

However, before the joint resolution, cooperation and coordination among the five barangays were established and tanods from each barangay agreed to conduct roving patrols every 20 to 30 minutes. (PNA)

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