MANILA - Plain clothes "secret marshals" have been deployed on public transport in Manila with orders to shoot down armed robbers in a crackdown against violent crime, the city's newly appointed police chief said Friday.
In a message to armed criminals who victimise bus and public transport users, Chief Superintendent Leonardo Espina said: "If you want to live longer, then stop your criminality, stop the crimes that you create, because if you give us the opportunity to (get into a firefight) with you, we will do so."
The police chief, who assumed his post two weeks ago, was speaking on a tour of police stations in the capital of 15 million people, and warned holdup men that "numerous secret marshals" had been deployed.
Notorious secret marshals were deployed on buses during the 20-year regime of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, who imposed martial rule 40 years ago Friday.
But the government later dismantled the system amid complaints the marshals had accidentally shot innocent victims.
"What is important to me is peace, that's our mandate. Our number-one consideration is peace," Espina said. But he did not disclose how many marshals were being deployed or what the rules of armed engagement would be.
Manila has been hit in recent months by a wave of deadly armed robberies at some of the capital's most upscale shopping malls, with car theft and motorcycle purse-snatchers also on the rise, according to police.
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