Fetalvero: Watch out

·2 min read

A “citizen’s watch” or “community watch” is a good idea especially in subdivisions to thwart thievery or home invasion. The men-in-charge are composed of either residents in the barangay or members of the Homeowners’ Association in certain subdivisions.

Armed with two-way radios, baseball bats or bolos, their presence is a strong deterrent to criminality. Early reporting of a crime in progress gives the police a big chance to catch the criminals.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s intention to arm these volunteers has become controversial considering the danger posed on arming civilians that may lead to vigilante activities. Our country is confronted with problems of impunity caused by some members of men in uniform. The system of recruitment of citizens to become members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) has been questioned several times, every time a member of the police force abuses his authority and indiscriminately uses his firearm.

Policemen underwent training, seminars, experienced tactical operations, and yet there are still members of the police force found to be unworthy of the badge and the organization they represent.

Have we not learned from the tragic experience in America when civilians armed with weapons stormed the Capitol last year? Law enforcers had difficulty controlling the crowd for the simple reason that some of them were armed.

Malacañang Spokesperson Harry Roque clarified and assured the public that Duterte’s pronouncements were not yet a policy. It may be important to note that in the past, some pronouncements made by the Chief Executive eventually became the policy of the land, if not, a signal for Congress to do something about it legally.

What this government should be doing is to intensify operations against loose firearms in the hands of syndicates and political warlords, especially since there is an election coming.

Catch gunrunners instead of arming civilians to prevent criminality. Years ago, when our enforcers raided the properties of the Ampatuan family, several weapons—mostly high powered—and ammunition were seized. It was even reported that some of the confiscated weapons were government-issued firearms and therefore, part of military inventory. How did that happen? Was it investigated?

In reaction to Duterte’s thoughts that were verbalized in public, Department of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the PNP can handle the peacekeeping and enforcement aspect and that there is no need to arm civilian volunteers.

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