Better, more cops, not vigilantes

TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag - The Freeman

I do not think President Duterte was joking when he suggested the arming of anti-crime volunteers. But I do not think he was serious either. The president has this habit of thinking out loud, blurting out things that cross his mind without really having had time to ponder on them, much less come to a decision on them.

I surmise this was just another of those morsels he often tosses to the public, especially to the media, for them to chew on. Former Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmeña was very good at this kind of game. Any idea he had, he tosses first to the public to test the reaction and then picks it up from there. Sometimes Osmeña just tosses anything to pique the media and I would not be surprised if Duterte is of the same mind.

Remember that Duterte is not just a probinsyano but by blood a Cebuano, just like Osmeña. Duterte's father Vicente was a mayor of Danao City and brother to Ramos Duterte who, like his son Ronald, was mayor of Cebu City. Probinsyanos are sincere and down to earth in character but can be very savvy and cunning in politics. That is why the media, especially those from Manila, will always be hard-pressed to immediately get it, joke or not.

Serious or joking, however, I do not go along with the suggestion. To me, anti-crime volunteer is just a euphemism for vigilante and I would rather not allow vigilantes to even have just one foot through the door. The moment vigilantes are let loose upon the populace, that is the end of our still generally peaceful and law-abiding society as we know it. Allow it and it will be every man for himself.

To me, I would rather still trust the police, entrust my life and my peace of mind to them. If Duterte thinks the police is no longer an adequate deterrent to crime, then the solution is to make it adequate. He does not have to go looking for another problem. If their numbers are no longer enough, make them enough. If they need to train more, then train more. Give them better arms. Make them happy with their pay.

Vice President Leni Robredo is herself opposed to the idea. But I am not happy that she is. I am unsettled by the fact that we are on the same side on this issue. To me Leni does not know what she is talking about, what issue she has chosen to embrace. Whatever Duterte does or says, she just opposes. And that does not involve much thinking to me.

The reasons she cites for her opposition to this issue are all there in a news story on page 3 of the Philippine Star last Monday. And they are all hollow and empty. I do not want to waste column space quoting what she said. But you can read for yourself. Google it. Philstar last Monday, page 3. I just hope you do not puke at the inanities, the generalizations, and the motherhood statements.

With the resources at her disposal, she could have, for instance, asked a staff to do research on loose firearms. That could have made her argument more compelling than having too many guns in the wrong hands is terrifying. But no, she just goes on and on with her broad strokes she might as well have been talking of the birds and the bees and no one getting any wiser. Now I do not know which is more dangerous, guns or silliness.

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