Group wary about arming mall guards

Posted at 02/01/13 12:20 PM

MANILA, Philippines – An advocacy group believes the arming of mall security guards is not the solution in preventing crimes from happening, saying the proposal could even backfire.

Nandy Pacheco, founder of Gunless Society of the Philippines, said not all security guards may be psychologically fit to carry firearms.

"If they are not trained, we might all of a sudden [witness] a shooting. They must be trained. A gun is a dangerous object. Therefore, it should be handled with care," Pacheco told ANC.

The Gunless Society founder said armed guards must not mingle with the mall crowd.

He said the best way to ensure the safety of the public is to have mall management become stricter in inspecting bags and frisking. He also suggested that malls put up state-of-the-art security systems.

"Establishments will have to install 'yung talagang devices that will determine kung may baril talaga o wala," he said.

Mall security has become a hot issue following the daring robbery inside SM Megamall last January 26. No one was injured in the incident, but it raised concerns that mall security guards are not well-trained in dealing with criminal elements.

Philippine National Police chief Director General Alan Purisima, meanwhile, said there will be "no mercy" this time as perception escalates that the police cannot control crime incidences.

Purisima said he believes more armed guards would boost peace and order in establishments since would-be criminals will be hesitant in facing armed security guards.

"We will be more strict on this. Hindi na tayo maaawa ngayon," he said.

Ramon Vergado, president of the security agencies' umbrella organization Philippine Association of Detective and Protective Agency Operators (PADPAO), said mall owners do not want security guards to carry guns.

However, he said security agencies will have to follow the PNP's orders.

According to the PNP - Supervisory Office for Security and Investigative Agencies (PNP-SOSIA), guards are required to carry the standard 38mm or 9mm pistols while bank guards and armored car security should carry shotguns.

SOSIA Chief PCSupt. Tomas Rentoy III said that aside from the 5-day specialized mall training course, they are inclined to give a yearly training to mall guards which is separate from the one being given by private security firms.

According to the PNP, the Philippines has 500,000 security guards, a figure higher than the combined forces of the military and the police. – with Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News