Eleazar backs Duterte’s call to arm anti-crime volunteers ‘for their protection’
MANILA, Philippines — Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Guillermo Eleazar on Sunday backed the call of President Rodrigo Duterte to arm anti-crime volunteers, stressing the move is for “ensuring their own protection.”
Duterte floated the idea during the launch of the Global Coalition of Lingkod Bayan Advocacy Support Groups and Force Multipliers in Camp Crame on Friday. It is a coalition of civilian organizations which will serve as the police’s partner in its fight against crime.
“Batid ng ating Pangulo at kami mismo sa PNP ang panganib na kakaharapin ng aming (The president and the PNP are aware of the danger this will cause the) volunteers for standing up against criminal elements that include members of the CPP-NPA-NDF and the suggestion made was aimed at ensuring their own protection — but with an assurance that they will undergo the rules and procedures for civilians to possess and carry firearms,” Eleazar said in a statement.
Eleazar said anti-crime volunteers are required to secure License to Own and Possess Firearms (LTOPF), a requirement for civilians before they could buy firearms, secure firearms licenses, and Permits to Carry Firearms Outside Residence (PTCFORs).
He also said there is no reason “to prevent members of civilian volunteer groups from enjoying the same privilege.”
“The proposal to arm them is purely for their own protection, to defend themselves and the PNP itself will not allow each and every one of them to engage in the actual fighting of criminal elements,” he added.
Eleazar also allayed the concern of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), which feared that the move “may lead to lawlessness and proliferation of arms.”
Statement of CHR Spokesperson, Atty Jacqueline Ann de Guia, on the proposal of arming civilian anti-crime volunteers pic.twitter.com/D3u3pUSSd1
— CHR Philippines (@chrgovph) June 26, 2021
“We understand the concern of the officials of the Commission on Human Rights but we assure them that the President’s suggestion is to encourage volunteerism and definitely not vigilantism,” Eleazar pointed out.
The CHR also said that the PNP, being the sole constitutionally recognized law enforcement arm, is “more than enough.”
Eleazar, in response, said he support CHR’s argument in this case
“But it should also understand that we cannot let them be at the mercy of the criminal elements that we encourage them to fight alongside with us.”
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