President Rodrigo Duterte, whose war on drugs and crime in the Philippines has killed thousands, is reportedly considering a new tactic in his fight: Arming the public.
Duterte wants to distribute guns to “42,000 community leaders, known as “barangay captains,” after consulting with the police and intelligence agency,” as the New York Post reports.
The guns would be free for anyone not involved in illegal drugs; privately purchased handguns would be subsidized. “Duterte has repeatedly said thousands of community officials were involved in the trade, without elaborating.”
From The Post:
Activists and Duterte’s political opponents say the campaign is overwhelmingly targeting users and small-time peddlers in poor communities and accuse police of systematically executing suspects, often based on weak intelligence.
The authorities reject that and say all those killed were drug dealers who put up violent resistance and left police with no choice but to shoot them.
Those in favor of Duterte’s plan includes the association of barangay officials. Its president, Edmund Abesamis, told CNN Philippines he believes this “will ease the reluctance of most village chiefs to disclose information on drug suspects — since the captains become targets of the criminal.”
Among its opponents are activist groups that say the government’s aim is to incite terror among the public. A spokeswoman for Rise Up for Life and for Rights said as much, arguing that communities faced more than their share of “tyrannical and fascist attacks” during Duterte’s drug war.