Defining legal bounds of arming anti-crime civilians, the real challenge, says Villanueva

Defining legal bounds of arming anti-crime civilians, the real challenge, says Villanueva

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — Framing the proper protocol and defining the legal bounds on rules of
engagement are just some of the difficulties Sen. Joel Villanueva sees
if the government adopts a proposal to arm anti-crime civilian groups.

“When private individuals are allowed to bear arms for missions
reserved for officers of the law, there is the challenge of defining
the protocols they should follow,” Villanueva, chair of the Senate
labor committee said.

Training, he added, is essential and at the same time costly. “Police
officers are taught and trained for years to observe rules of
engagement. Who will provide that costly education to what would
essentially become urban CAFGUs?” Villanueva said.

Both President Duterte and Philippine National Police (PNP) chief
Guillermo Eleazar backed a proposal to arm anti-crime volunteers as a
means of self-protection against crimes.

Villanueva said this proposal needs serious study and instead pushed
for more “official boots” on the ground in the crime-fighting arena.

“I share the belief of many experts that more police patrols, more
officers pounding the beat, and increased police visibility will curb
crimes better than guns in the hands of civilian groups. We should
invest in smart policing,” he said.

“A CCTV network has greater deterrent value than licensed vigilantes
roaming the streets. A responsive 911 system that can scramble
policemen to scenes of crime in minutes and not in ages will send the
message that crime will be stopped and the public will be protected.”

The senator said he believes that peace and order is “one government
function that should not be privatized or deregulated because, on
paper, there is no shortage of military and civilian uniform personnel
underarms, who number at least 400,000.”

“The call that more civilians be deputized to carry out police work is
already answered by current firearms laws that allow professionals
like lawyers, CPAs, cashiers, bank tellers, religious workers,
engineers, business to own and carry one if their work or business
makes them a high-risk target of criminals,” Villanueva said.

“Two in every three firearms in the country are unregistered. But of
the 1.2 million registered firearms, close to half, or 540,000 are in
responsible civilian hands. It is illicit guns that enable criminals,
and to deprive them of their tools of trade, the police should launch
a drive against gun trafficking.” (AI/MTVN)

Leave a Reply