Police vigilantes?

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — The government’s plan to create a new civilian armed group to be known as “police auxiliaries” (PAXs) yesterday raised fears it would only contribute to more crimes and abuses in the region.

At the regular forum Talakayan Sa Isyung Pulis, Senior Supt. Charles Calima, chief of the regional directorial staff, and Senior Supt. Elmo Sarona of the Regional Operations Division revealed that recruitment is already ongoing for the formation of PAXs, which would be under the control of local executives through their respective Peace and Order Councils.

Sarona said PAX members would be armed with shotguns, given para-military training by the Special Action Force and have arrest powers.

Benjie de Galicia, president of the Camp Vicente Lim Press Club and local reporter for DZRH, however noted that the PAX is being created at a time when the influence of the New People’s Army in the region is already on the decline.

He cited a litany of past experiences when armed civilians, including CAFGU members, were caught committing abuses and engaging in criminal activities.

It was also pointed out that local officials can easily manipulate the recruitment process so that the PAX can easily be packed with their own men and thus end up as private armed groups (PAGs) disguised as police auxiliaries.

PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Nicanor A. Bartolome explained police auxiliaries will help local policemen defend their villages.

He differentiated the police auxiliaries from vigilantes and civilian volunteers.

“We won’t arm any vigilantes. We won’t even arm civilian volunteers. What we will do is that we will deputize police auxiliaries who will help in the defense of barangays,” Bartolome said in yesterday’s Talakayan sa Isyung Pulis or T.S.I.P. in Camp Crame .

“There is a legal basis in recruiting these police auxiliaries but we will be only recruiting those who are already with the barangay security force or the so-called ‘barangay tanod’ or retired police and military personnel,” Bartolome said.

Volunteers

Meanwhile, the governor of Sarangani province ordered town mayors to organize defense forces particularly in coastal areas to foil attacks by secessionist rebels.

Sarangani Gov. Rene Migs Dominguez issued the order in the wake of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front attack in Barangay Poblacion which claimed the lives of two innocent civilians and wounded others.

Civilian Volunteer Organizations are authorized to carry firearms to defend communities against terror groups.