Philippines aims to have all cops armed by January

Philippine President Benigno Aquino said Tuesday the government aims to have all of the country's over 140,000 police personnel carry firearms by January next year.

The president disclosed that "almost 50 percent" of the country's police officers had no service firearm when he assumed power in 2010.

"It means, half of you in the service may only be relying on amulets, or praying very hard to be spared from bullets during encounters, or asking the criminals to be kinder," Aquino said.

Aquino said he approved the purchase of around 60,000 Glock 17 9-mm pistols.

Aquino on Tuesday presided over the ceremonial distribution of the first batch of the new pistols to selected members of the Philippine National Police.

"It will not take long for us to completely provide the lacking 74,879 firearms for the police force. At this rate, we are nearing our objective of a 1:1 police-to-pistol ratio," Aquino said.

National police spokesman Reuben Theodore Sindac said the full delivery of the new firearms will be completed in January next year.

Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas said the additional firearms will be a crime deterrent "because our cops will no longer hesitate to respond to crimes and perform their duties."

Despite the shortage of firearms, Aquino praised the national police for performing their duties over the last three years.

From a crime volume of 319,441 in 2010, Aquino said it went down to 217,812 in 2012, noting in particular the reduction by 40 percent of car theft cases, and the reduction by 73 percent of kidnapping-for-ransom cases.

Aquino said his administration will further boost the national capability of the police by acquiring 13,000 M-4 rifles for those assigned to field patrols, and by hiring 15,000 non-uniformed personnel every year from 2013 up to 2016, when he ends his term, to perform administrative or office jobs currently done by the police.