MANILA, Philippines – Former Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado warned Monday evening that President Rodrigo Duterte’s proposal to arm civilian organizations to help police fight crime “would cause lawlessness.”
The Philippine National Police supported the proposal, which Duterte said Friday he plans to help the agency “fulfill its mandate” and help “restore and strengthen public confidence in our police force.”
PNP chief General Guillermo Eleazar in a statement on Sunday insisted the suggested policy is only a way “to encourage volunteerism and certainly not self-defense” despite a warning from the Commission rights that the arming of civilians “could have a further negative impact on the human rights situation in the country.
“It is not for us to do justice. It will cause lawlessness,” Mercado, also a former senator, told One News “Sa Totoo Lang”.
âWhat we should be afraid of when it comes to guns is not the bullet with our names on it, but the bullet that says ‘to whom it may concern.’ If we allow people to move around with their own weapons, etc., there are a lot of brash people, âhe said partly in Filipino.
Mercado also cited the situation in the United States, where firearms outnumber people, and its own president, Joe Biden, admits the country is in the throes of what he called a “epidemic” gun violence.
“This is a bogus solution to a serious problem,” the former defense chief said of Duterte’s proposal.
Former police officers, defense chiefs: go after illegal firearms instead
Mercado also supported Senator Panfilo Lacson’s counter-proposal for the PNP to enforce stricter gun control measures, including stricter issuance or even suspension of permits to carry firearms to the exterior of residences (PTCFOR), which the former police chief said would deter crime better than a policy of arming civilians.
While at the helm of the PNP, Lacson recalls, he limited the issuance of PTCFOR to those who met requirements such as gun safety seminars, practical and neuropsychiatric testing and, most importantly, appearance. personal candidates.
Like Mercado, the senator pointed to the prevalence of fatal shootings in the United States, adding that they could be attributed to the country’s “bulk gun laws”. He contrasted with this the Hong Kong policy where people automatically report to the police those seen in civilian clothes but carrying guns.
“My idea was that after significantly improved law enforcement and policing, the only people allowed to carry firearms outside their homes are police officers and military personnel in uniform on official duty.” , he said at a Balitaan sa Maynila forum held on Sunday.
“Anyone, including PNP officers who are not wearing police uniforms, must be presumed to have criminal intent and apprehended on the spot. It is time for the public to develop a different mindset and assumption about who they are seen. carrying guns. ”
He pointed out in particular the recent shooting incidents involving off-duty police officers, in particular Jonel Nuezca who shot dead Sonya Gregorio, 52, and her son Frank Anthony Gregorio in an argument, and Hensie Zinaampan who shot Lilybeth Valdez , 52 years old, in front. from his family.
“This is why I had suggested as a policy recommendation that the police hand over their issued firearms to the gunsmith or supply officer of their units when they are not on duty, and should not receive of PTCFOR while they are still in active service, âhe said. .
Lacson further cautioned that [a]getting civilians to fight crime could backfire, especially if they don’t have the right training and mindset. “
“If our police forces that are supposed to be trained are prone to failures, how much more in the case of untrained civilians?”