CVO - Civilian Volunteer Organization,
Government-armed civilian militias supplement the AFP and PNP; the AFP controlled Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Units (CAFGUs), while the Civilian Volunteer Organizations (CVOs) fell under PNP command. Civilian Volunteer Organizations are organized to constitute the unarmed component of the local defense forces.
The barangay serves as the smallest administratis'e division in the Philippines. It is the primary planning and implementing unit of government. policies, plans, programs, projects and activities in the community, and as a forum wherein the collective interests of the people may he expressed, crystallized and considered, and their disputes may he amicably settled.
The Civilian Volunteer Organization is a body or brigade composed of civilian volunteers duly created at the barangay level, to assist the barangay of?cials in the effective exercise of law enforcement for the maintenance of peace and order and the promotion of public safety. Civilian volunteer must be of legal age, must he a resident of the city or municipality of the place where he intends to volunteer, must be of good moral character and must not have been convicted of any crime. A civilian volunteer is required to render eight working hours a day or a total of forty working hours a week; Provided, That the civilian volunteer may be required to render services beyond his or her required working hours during emergency situations.
Fulfilling the civil security requirement is the establishment of the Integrated Territorial Defense System (ITDS) to protect the population and secure vital installations and national assets from extremist attacks. The ITDS involves three main components: (1) National Police territorial forces; (2) Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Units (CAFGU); and (3) Local Government Units (LGU) with Civilian Volunteer Organizations (CVO).
The military and civilian defense forces’ shortcomings in military and civil-military operations are some of the main obstacles in effectively countering the expansion campaign of the insurgents. The Civilian Volunteer Organization has played a vital role in the maintenance and protection of peace1 and security and the promotion of public safety. The members of the Civilian Volunteer Organizatien risk their lives to protect the people in their communities despite the meager allowances they receive.
These paramilitary units often received minimal training and were poorly monitored and regulated. Some political families and clan leaders, particularly in Mindanao, maintained private armies and at times recruited CVO and CAFGU members into those armies. Human rights NGOs continue to link state-backed militias and private armies with numerous human rights abuses.
The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984. The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) expressed concern in August 2008 about the reported pronouncement of the Deputy Director General, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Avelino Razon Jr., that they are shipping a thousand shotguns to arm "selected, screened and trained" police auxiliaries in southern Mindanao. These police auxiliaries include village watchmen and civilian volunteer organizations (CVOs), who have supposedly undergone "rigid screening and training".
"There is only one police and law enforcement agency and it is the PNP. Law enforcement on matters involving protection of the lives and property of citizens is solely and unconditionally the responsibility of the PNP. It is a non-transferable obligation. By arming civilians, the PNP is abdicating its power to a band of armed men that have no legal authority to enforce the law. It thus reveals the stark and frightening reality that the PNP can no longer perform even its most rudimentary duty; the maintenance of law and order.
"It is unthinkable that the country's police force is sliding back to a dark time in the past when the police and military funded, armed and 'trained vigilante groups against the communist insurgency in the '70s and '80s. The arming of civilian has left a devastating legacy of vigilantism that for decades, particularly the city of Davao, has not been able to recover from. It was in the urban village of Agdao in Davao City where the vicious vigilante group, Alsa Masa, first took root."
Prosecution of the 2009 massacre of 58 civilians in Maguindanao Province moved slowly due to a dysfunctional justice system and the complexities of simultaneously trying more than 100 defendants. The primary suspect, former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan, Sr., died from liver cancer on 18 July 2015. As of August the court had resolved most of the bail petitions, the reason for some of the delays. Such delays continued to reinforce the perception of impunity for national, provincial, and local government actors accused of human rights abuses.
In his successful campaign for the presidency, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III [2010-2016] vowed to abolish the private armies that flourished under President Arroyo [2001-2010], who authorized the arming of Civilian Volunteer Organizations (CVOs) and Police Auxiliary Units.
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