Press Release
August 22, 2008

Loren cautions against arming civilians, auxiliaries

Senator Loren Legarda yesterday cautioned the Philippine National Police (PNP) regarding its plan to mobilize and arm police auxiliaries purportedly to strengthen the country's anti-insurgency efforts in Mindanao.

"We are aware of the PNP's intention, but it should be done with extreme caution to avoid worsening the peace situation," said Legarda.

"The PNP must be stringent in the deputization of police auxiliaries, and ensure that they (auxiliaries) are provided rigorous training for them to be effective in the anti-terror drive," she explained.

She also warned that the firearms would find their way or would fall into the hands of lawless elements, thus the PNP must do a proper accounting of the weapons.

"When the PNP-provided shotguns should become part of the so-many loose firearms in the country today, then the perceived cure becomes part of the problem," Legarda said.

The PNP is set to ship at least 1,000 shotguns to several regions in Mindanao to arm residents who will serve as police auxiliaries.

It will order 12,000 more shotguns to be distributed in other parts of the country once the arming of police auxiliaries goes well.

The PNP move, according to Director General Avelino Razon, is "legal and proper" based on Executive Order 546, which grants the PNP an active role in Internal Security Operations.

Only those who are physically fit, law-abiding, have no criminal records, and have good moral standing are qualified to receive guns, according to Razon. Barangay 'tanods' and village chiefs are also qualified to receive guns.

The said police auxiliaries will undergo training and will be receiving allowances.

The plan was an offshoot of the current conflict in Mindanao where civilians are caught in crossfire between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the government forces locked in gun battle for days now.

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