MANILA - Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Archie Gamboa on Wednesday said that the agency is planning to equip law enforcers with "non-lethal" weapons to give officers "other options" to neutralize threats.
The PNP is looking at the possibility of issuing "pepper sprays, tazer guns and batons" to police officers, Gamboa said in a Senate investigation into the police killing of 4 soldiers in Sulu.
"When we do an arrest, ang mayroon ka lang is persuasion and ang next na mayroon ka lang is firearm," he said.
(When we do an arrest, what we have is persuasion and next is our firearm.)
"It's high time we start to procure non-lethal weapons... so logically a police officer will have different options aside from a firearm," he said when asked how to avoid incidents of police killing civilians or other law enforcers.
Under the proposal, police officials will be have to be trained to "have the ability to assess a situation" when he could use a non-lethal weapon instead of a gun, Gamboa said.
Police have been tagged in controversial deaths in the drug war, with the "nanlaban" plot- or suspects shot dead supposedly because of resisting arrest- an oft repeated explanation for deadly operations.
A second option would be to teach law enforcers how to use martial arts, he said.
"Parang last resort niya 'yung firearm (The firearm is his last resort), granting that he can think through the options given the time," he said.
The PNP has "yet to provide these basic non-lethal weapons," the police chief said.
The discussion on the possible procurement of non-lethal weapons for police surfaced in the Senate hearing as lawmakers looked for ways on how to decrease incidents of police-linked killings.
The 9 police officers implicated in the Sulu case had told senators that they fired at military men after they allegedly saw the soldiers holding a gun.
The National Bureau of Investigation said the 4 soldiers who were slain in downtown Jolo were unarmed. The military called the incident a rubout.