Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque clarified Monday that President Rodrigo Duterte’s recommendation to arm anti-crime civilian organizations is not yet final.
Last week, Duterte said he is open to the idea of arming civilian groups to help the police force fight crimes.
“If you have this coalition, you have a list of people who are there who can arm themselves. I will order the police if you are qualified, get a gun, and help us enforce the laws,” Duterte said during the launch of the Global Coalition of Lingkod Bayan Advocacy Support Groups and Force Multipliers in Camp Crame.
“Don’t simply make an arrest tapos wala kang…ikaw ang mamatay. You are not supposed to die. A criminal is supposed to die,” Duterte added.
Roque said during a Palace briefing, “He (President) is open to the idea, but there is no final decision yet. It is speculative to discuss it since there is no policy on that yet.”
Roque then reiterated the explanation of the Philippine National Police Chief Police General Guillermo Eleazar that such a call from Duterte only means that civilians under attack by criminals should be equipped enough to defend themselves.
Duterte no final decision yet on arming civilians: Palace
“We cannot allow our volunteers to be at the mercy of criminal elements and we encourage them to fight with us,” Roque said.
“This is not yet a policy and will be subject to complete staff work, but the volunteers have to be able to defend themselves if their lives are under threat,” he added.
Meanwhile, Bayan Muna party-list Representative Carlos Zarate said Duterte’s idea is “a bloody disaster waiting to happen.”
“If this is allowed, then incidents involving gun abuse — such as Jonel Nuezca in December 2020 and Hensie Zinampan earlier this year — would grow exponentially. This will only worsen the already discredited but bloody ‘nanlaban’ claim of the police,” Zarate said in a statement.
Meanwhile, ACT Teachers party-list Representative France Castro said the recommendation would only allow more crimes to happen.