Gun or no gun?

SENTINEL - Ramon T. Tulfo - The Philippine Star

Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s proposal for off-duty police officers to not carry their guns has been met with vehement opposition from the citizenry, especially from so-called netizens.

Lacson, former chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), made the proposal after at least two off-duty police officers shot civilians, their heinous crimes recorded on video.

But the current PNP chief, Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo “Guilor” Eleazar, takes issue with Lacson, saying an off-duty cop is still a cop, and needs to carry a gun.

I asked my followers on my Facebook wall who they would side with – Lacson or Eleazar – on the issue of whether off-duty police officers should be allowed to carry their service firearms.

Of the 205 comments I have received, only a handful sided with Lacson.

The following are comments from netizens:

Rackie Estaniel: “Duty or off-duty, being in the police is an occupation. The gun is part of being a police officer.”

Casiano Navarro: “I am with Guilor. An off-duty cop is still mandated to stop the commission of a crime when he sees one that is actually happening or is about to happen or just happened.”

Sammy Dee Tanzo: “I’m with Eleazar for as long as (off-duty) cops are responsible.”

Athena Granados: “Of course, I side with the more intelligent between the two. Isn’t it obvious?”

Nelson Yabut: “It’s okay for off-duty cops to turn in their service firearms, but they must have their own guns just in case they chance upon a crime.”

Ramolito Barangan: “Senator Lacson, of course! An off-duty policeman should not bring his service firearm just like in the US and other countries.”

Reynaldo Esmeralda: “Senator Lacson is right. Take for example the police forces in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan and other parts of the world. Off-duty policemen don’t carry their service firearms.”

Nath de la Paz: “Criminals don’t have off-duty. It’s necessary for cops to be armed 24/7.”

Janice Evans: “A cop should always carry a gun. If an off-duty police officer chances upon a crime, does he have to go home to get his gun? Toink!”

Bubut Jimenez: “I agree with General Eleazar.”

Rick B. Ramos: “In theory, Sen. Ping Lacson is correct. In practice, PNP Chief Eleazar is also correct. But given the history of policemen, they will do less harm if they are unarmed while off-duty when they hardly do any good anyway.”

My take: A police officer is a law enforcer 24/7. He is mandated to arrest wrongdoers or prevent a crime from happening, even when he’s off-duty.

In the United States, in some police departments, uniformed cops who are off-duty are made to leave their service firearms in their precincts.

However, they are allowed to carry their personal revolvers or pistols in case something happens outside. Detectives are required to carry their service firearms even when they’re off-duty.

*      *      *

I remember a plainclothes police officer from the theft and robbery section of the Western Police District (now Manila Police), who didn’t believe in carrying a gun when he was off-duty. He would leave his gun in his office drawer.

One day on his way home, he chanced upon a man repeatedly stabbing another in a crowd.

His police instincts told him to intervene and arrest the perpetrator. When he introduced himself as a police officer, the knife-wielder turned on him.

Having no gun and with no training in self-defense, he had to run away.

After that incident, he always carried a gun.

*      *      *

S/Sgt. Joel Mendoza of the Carmona Police Station is a lazy and lousy investigator.

The parents of seven-year-old Pia Grace Roberto, who was raped and killed, came to Isumbong mo kay Tulfo to complain about Mendoza’s slothful ways and incompetence.

The child’s body – the shorts removed, hands and feet tied, with head injuries and her torso with several stab wounds – was recovered days after she went missing.

The father, Florentino Roberto, was first suspected by Mendoza of committing the crime.

“Masarap bang saksakin ang anak mo (Did it feel good to stab your daughter)?” the investigator asked Roberto, who in turn vehemently protested.

Mendoza said he went to the place where the child’s body was found but didn’t find any evidence.

A month after the child’s body was recovered, the parents went back to the place where it was found. They found her shorts a few meters away.

If Mendoza did investigate, why didn’t he find the child’s shorts?

My staff and I had to ask the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to take on the possible rape-murder case, as the local police are inutile.

It’s no wonder policemen in the provinces are considered by most citizens as pulis-patola, or dumb or timid cops.

*      *      *

Heard through the grapevine:

The national assembly of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) today, which will be held inside the Clark Freeport Zone, is expected to hail President Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte as the party’s vice-presidential candidate with Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go as the standard bearer.

However, the former presidential aide-de-camp hemmed and hawed when this columnist asked him about the scuttlebutt.

“I’m not interested. I’m tired as it is. I know how hard the job of the president is,” said the senator. “I leave it to God, to the Dutertes, and to the Filipino people to whom I owe the privilege of serving this nation as a public servant,” Go added.

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