Vice President Leni Robredo April 4, 2021. Screencap from her FB

Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday criticized President Rodrigo Duterte for his “fear-based” approach to governance, saying it is not an effective way in leading the people.

In her weekly radio program, the Vice President cited Duterte’s suggestion to provide guns to civilian anti-crime volunteers as an indication of a fear-based leadership mindset.

Instead of resorting to a fear-based, punitive approach, Robredo said the people should be encouraged to be involved and not treated as mere “subjects.”

“Kasi kapag parang subject na kailangan sumunod sa order. Kapag ‘di kayo sumunod makukulong kayo o  pwedeng may harm na mangyari sa inyo. Parang laging nag-o-operate tayo sa takot kapag ganyan, at para sa akin hindi effective,” the Vice President said.

[It looks like the government treats the people as mere subjects who must follow orders. If they don’t, they will be punished or face the possibility of harm. This mindset of governing through fear is, for me, not effective.]

But if people are given a space to participate, the government doesn’t need to go to this punitive approach. Some will violate the law and we will just resort to arming civilians to help in catching offenders. But not all of the people are violators, she added speaking in Filipino.

Robredo shared the concern of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) that arming civilian groups to deter crime would lead to abuses. 

“‘Yung sa’kin kasi pag-aarmas ang laking responsibility niyan. Ang laking acocutnability at hindi basta-basta kasi yung parang espasyo sa pang-aabuso ang laki — yung risk ang laki” (Possessing a gun is a big responsibility that should be matched with accountability. The space and risk for abuse is there), she pointed out. 

At the launch of the Global Coalition of Lingkod Bayan Advocacy Support Groups and Force Multipliers, Duterte floated the idea of providing firearms to volunteers who would help catch criminals.

“If he goes voluntarily with you, good, it is ideal. But if they resist arrest violently, then you have the right to do your thing [that is] commensurate. You are not supposed to kill a person lying, kneeling, begging for his life,” he said.

PNP chief Police General Guillermo Eleazar on Sunday assured the CHR that arming anti-crime civilian volunteers — as suggested by Duterte — is solely for their protection. —LBG, GMA News