MANILA - Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday rejected a proposal to arm civilians so they could help law enforcers stop criminality, saying it could lead to possible abuse.
In a statement, the former police chief said the Philippine National Police should instead show how it could protect the public.
“The PNP should make it a point first to show that it is efficient, professional and competent to protect civilians on the streets from malefactors – including those with unlicensed guns and irresponsible gun holders that make them a threat – before it issues PTCFORs (permits to carry firearms outside residences) to deputize civilian ‘volunteers’ as force multipliers,” he said.
"Otherwise, the public would wonder if the PNP is that helpless to ask for help from civilians. Besides, we do not want guns to end up with those prone to road rage and similar incidents," added Lacson, who was PNP chief from 1999 to 2001.
He recalled he was strict in issuing PTCFORs when he led the police organization.
He said the late Sen. Miriam Santiago and late former President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III underwent the same standards and complied with all the requirements.
He said the only time he waived the requirements was for then President Joseph Estrada, who as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces always faced potential security threats.
“Aside from that instance involving the Commander-in-Chief, we were very strict. Out of some 300,000 previously granted PTCFORs, we issued only a little over 1,000 permits under my watch until President Erap was ousted in January 2001,” he said.
Sen. Leila de Lima also expressed concern on the proposal of giving civilians guns to curb criminality.
"If the PNP leadership cannot even control their men and prevent them from committing crimes on acts of violence against civilians, what makes them think they can control armed civilians?" she said in a dispatch from Camp Crame Tuesday.
Funds allocated for firearms should be given instead as cash aid to families affected by the pandemic. It could also be used to increase the salary of teachers and health care workers, she added.
"Marami na tayong problema dahil sa kapalpakan at kapabayaan ni Duterte. Huwag na natin dagdagan," De Lima said.
(We have too many problems from Duterte's failure and negligence. Let's not add to it anymore.)
Duterte last Friday told a gathering of law enforcers and civilian volunteer "force multipliers" that he was "open" to arming civilian groups.
"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," he said.