GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/04 October) — The provincial government of South Cotabato has set aside an initial P1.5 million for the purchase of additional firearms for barangay-based peacekeeping units in the area.
Board member Agustin Demaala, chair of the board’s committee on public order and safety, said Tuesday such move aims to improve the capability of the province’s 199 barangays in terms of maintaining peace and order as well as in responding to possible security threats.
He said they are targeting to acquire until next year a total of 128 semi-automatic shotguns that will be distributed to Barangay Peacekeeping Action Teams within the province’s 10 towns and lone city.
The official said the Sangguniang Panlalawigan or provincial board issued an authority on Monday to South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes to work on the acquisition and licensing of the firearms.
Citing an earlier proposal submitted to the board by the Office of the Governor, he said each semi-automatic shotgun will cost around P60,000 each.
The budget for the purchase of the new firearms, which will cost a total of P7.68 million based on the unit cost, was earlier endorsed by the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC).
“These firearms will be issued to barangays that were not covered by the initial distribution last year,” Demaala said.
The local government acquired last year 121 semi-automatic shotguns that were distributed to 121 barangays in the area.
Demaala said they are currently assessing the peace and order situation in all barangays in the province to facilitate the proper distribution of the firearms.
Aside from barangays that were not covered by the initial distribution, he said they will issue the firearms to those that posted high incidence of criminalities.
“We will issue some of the firearms based on the need of our barangays. We will prioritize areas that had recorded security-related incidents or problems these past months,” he said.
Last month, the PPOC endorsed a P10 million budget for various peace and order initiatives in the province next year.
The allocation will cover for the operations of the council, which is the highest security and peace and order policy-making body of the province, as well as the local government’s support to law enforcement units in the area.
The peace and order budget was included in the Annual Investment Program of the province for 2015. (MindaNews)