This is the fifth or sixth time I’ve visited the Philippines and one of the things I’ve never got used to is the sight of so many people carrying firearms. Most are security guards, outside shops, restaurants, shopping malls, as well as more obvious places such as banks and public buildings.
My disquiet is caused not just by my unfamiliarity with guns – the only time they are ever seen in the UK is in the hands of some police officers – but also my suspicion that many of these guards are not very well trained. The fact that the security guard at McDonald’s or KFC is carrying a shotgun makes me feel rather more concerned about my safety, not less. God forbid that he should ever use the thing.
I thought I had seen it all before visiting the Marquee Mall in Angeles City this afternoon. The car park was being patrolled by two private security guards armed not just with sidearms but M16 automatic rifles. I haven’t seen that level of firepower outside an airport. It didn’t help that these guys (dressed in dark blue SWAT-type uniforms) were clearly enjoying striking a macho pose standing in the back of their pickup truck.
Paramilitary car park attendants? Even in the Philippines that seems like overkill. Hopefully not literally so.