Eleazar assures CHR proposal to arm civilian anti-crime volunteers is for their protection
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar acknowledged the concern raised by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) over President Rodrigo Duterte’s suggestion to arm civilian organizations, which are partners of the police in fighting crime.
“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,” said Eleazar.
“Batid ng ating Pangulo at kami mismo sa PNP ang panganib na kakaharapin ng aming 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,” he added.
He said these include securing License to Own and Possess Firearms (LTOPF) which is a requirement before a civilian could buy a firearm, firearms license and the Permit to Carry Firearms Outside Residence (PTCFOR).
If civilians are allowed to possess and carry firearms for as long as they comply with the rules and regulations of the law and are qualified to do so, Eleazar explained that there is no reason to prevent members of civilian volunteer groups to enjoy the same privilege.
Eleazar stressed: “Walang dahilan para hindi sundin ang mga patakarang ito sa pagmamay-ari ng baril ng mga sibilyan even with our efforts to enhance our relations with the community in fighting criminality, insurgency, and illegal drugs, among others.
The CHR had pointed out that there is no need to arm civilian groups, saying that the PNP is the sole constitutionally-recognized law enforcement arm of the government and that the PNP is “more than enough.”
“We support the argument of the CHR on 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,” said Eleazar.
“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. The PNP also assures that only those who will qualify under the law may be permitted to own and possess firearms,” he added.
Last Friday, June 25, the PNP launched the Global Coalition of Lingkod Bayan Advocacy Support Groups and Force Multipliers, which aims to build a strong collaborative partnership with the community in support to the ongoing campaign against criminality and terrorism. (PNP-PIO)