Duterte to arm community leaders in bid to fight crime in the Philippines

The move comes after 20 community leaders killed during Jan-May 2018

President Duterte holding a firearm during an event in Quezon City, April 19, 2018

President Duterte holding a firearm during an event in Quezon City, April 19, 2018 (By Associated Press)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Philippines interior ministry said that handguns will be provided to community leaders, known as "barangay captains" who are willing to confront crime throughout the Philippines on Wednesday, June 13.

Under the plan, handguns will be provided for free, or subsidies given for private purchases by barangay captains who are not involved in illegal activities, the interior ministry told Reuters.

Martin Dino, Interior and Local Government Undersecretary said that under the 1991 Local Government Code, community leaders are legally allowed to carry firearms in an interview with ABS-CBN.

The plan comes after Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said he was considering the measure during a speech on June 12.

Between January and May this year, at least 20 barangay captains have been killed.

The government claims that barangay captains are too afraid of reporting crime to the authorities and the measure is hoped to reduce crime.

Last week Duterte said he would provide legal protection to community leaders to the same level as given to soldiers or police.

Duterte said barangay captains "will never go to jail" for shooting suspected criminals in a speech last week, according to the Telegraph.

Duterte had also previously claimed that thousands of the 42,000 total barangay captains are involved in illicit activities.

Edgar Erice, District Representative for Caloocan City's Second District described the plan as "a wild, wild west scenario" and Representative Tom Villarin said it was a "recipe for disaster", reported ABS-CBN.