Asia Minute: More Handguns for the Philippines?

Jun 14, 2018

Sig Sauer P320 Handgun
Credit Digitallymade / Wikimedia Commons

School violence in the United States has led to a broader debate about arming teachers. Florida has passed a law allowing teachers to carry handguns. Texas lawmakers are considering a similar measure. But in the Philippines, an even more dramatic proposal is under consideration.

Community leaders in the Philippines who say they are willing to fight crime may soon be armed — courtesy of the federal government.

The country’s interior minister said Wednesday that handguns will be provided for free for the use of leaders of what amounts to large neighborhood associations.

This starts with the organization of many Philippine communities which are broken down into what are called barangays — the smallest administrative division in the country.  There are more than 42,000 of them around the Philippines, and each is headed by a captain.

These are the people who would be eligible to receive the weapons as long as they are not involved in the illegal drug trade.

President Rodrigo Duterte said this week that he’s discussed the idea with police and the intelligence community.

Rodrigo Duterte
Credit PCOO EDP / Wikimedia Commons

It’s been nearly two years since Duterte took office with the promise of cracking down on drugs. Human Rights Watch says more than 12,000 drug users and dealers have been killed in the Philippines through the end of last year.

Critics say the plans to arm barangay captains will lead to more handgun violence on the streets.

One opposition politician calls the proposal “a wild, wild west scenario.” And another calls it a “recipe for disaster.”