Arming civilians will multiply repression and human rights violations — CPDG

June 29, 2021

Photo by Gerard Carreon/Associated Press

The Council for People’s Development and Governance (CPDG) raises alarm on Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s proposal to arm civilian volunteers as “force multipliers” of the police. The president says that this is to help in anti-crime or peace and order campaigns. However, the measure will only lead to more violence and even greater human rights violations. 

“The idea is dangerous. It will result in more crime and not less crime,” says Atty. Tony La Viña, former Dean of the Ateneo School of Governance and currently teaching law and governance in various Philippine law schools. 

As it is, ostensibly trained police personnel have already killed thousands of alleged drug offenders in the course of the administration’s so-called War on Drugs aside from other abuses. The continued proliferation of drugs shows that armed, repressive operations are ineffective. The proposal will only lead to the spread of loose firearms and more abusive behavior by gun-toting civilians.

“The proposal will only further close civic and democratic space,” adds Lisa Maza, CPDG Spokesperson. The armed might of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is already used to targeting rights defenders and the political opposition on the pretext of a peace and order program.

“Duterte’s go-signal and the backing of PNP Chief General Guillermo Eleazar in arming civilian volunteers incites more lawlessness amid already rampant impunity,” said Maza. She adds: “The armed civilians will most certainly be used to multiply political repression.”

“It is far more important and useful to reform the country’s corrupted justice system, reform the PNP and the AFP, bring justice to victims of the bloody War on Drugs and of politically motivated killings, and focus on resolving the health and economic crisis with the people’s rights and welfare its priority,” ends Maza. #