First of two parts
Three reasons: smuggling, jueteng, and bad leadership. But first, let’s look at the crime numbers. Not the hugely discounted data from the Philippine National Police as reported by the National Statistics Office (NSO). Rather, the real, unadulterated figures made public only in June by no less than PNP Chief Alan Purisima.
Believe it or not, based on the true statistics, crime incidence has more than doubled under President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
Citing the corrected PNP data, news website Rappler reported that crime volume for all of last year hit a record 631,406 incidents. That’s nearly double the 2010 figure, and almost three times the now doubtful 2012 data of 217,812.
If this year’s reported 18 percent rise in crime for January-May continues till December, there could be close to 750,000 incidents for all of 2014—more than twice the 2010 rate.
All this may surprise even those closely monitoring crime, due to apparent declines in 2011 and 2012. In the NSO 2014 factbook, total incidents purportedly fell from 319,441 in 2010 to 241,988 and 217,812 in the next two years.
But in his June 27 press briefing, PNP Chief Purisima spilled the beans as actually tallied by crime beancounters.
From January to May this year, a total of 289,198 crimes were reported, up nearly 44,000 or 18 percent over the tally of 245,347 for the same five months in 2013. And full-year data topped 630,000 —almost triple the 2012 figure, which suggests that the latter tally is probably wrong.
If full-year crime volume rises at the same 18 percent rate in the first semester, there could be some 744,000 incidents for all of 2014, up 130 percent since 2010, despite much improved economic conditions in recent years.
Reveal the real crime rate
The fudging of crime figures led the PNP last year to relieve the Mandaluyong, Pasay, and Taguig police chiefs reportedly for false data. The National Capital Region Police Office also investigated seven other chiefs of police and station managers. Similar action was taken in other regions; in Bicol, three police chiefs were suspended for falsifying accomplishment reports.
Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, who oversees the PNP as head of the National Police Commission, should be raising hell not only over the unprecedented crime surge, but even more for the data fabrication by law enforcers. Congress, too, should take the national police to task over the truly alarming lawless trend and how the PNP hid it.
Besides stopping data fraud and punishing its perpetrators, the PNP must immediately correct all wrong data in police files and NSO tables. Accurate crime information is indispensable in alerting the public about what perils to guard against, which areas are most at risk, and how police should deal with threats. Without correct data, people and police are fighting blind.
Said PNP Chief Purisima after announcing the Bicol police suspensions in July 2013: “We should have an accurate reporting of crimes so that we will have an accurate assessment that we can eventually use in mapping out operational plans.” Absolutely.
The truthful yearly crime volume is also the correct benchmark to assess the PNP’s anti-crime effort, not the monthly data now being trumpeted, which again make people think that law enforcers are winning against lawbreakers. Until police come clean with all the data they had falsified in the Aquino years, it’s hard to trust their numbers.
The flood of guns and drugs
After the PNP numbers mess, we now look at the factors boosting crime under Aquino’s watch. First, smuggling.
His State of the Nation Address last year lambasted the Bureau of Customs (BoC) for “heedlessly permitting the smuggling of goods, and even drugs, arms, and other items of a similar nature into our territory. … One can almost hear these public officials say, ‘I don’t care if the weapons go to criminal elements; I don’t care how many lives are ruined by drugs’.”
That lethal combination of firearms and narcotics skyrocketed under Aquino, boosting crime. And he has no one to blame but himself, for he abetted the contraband flood. Aquino had the right man to stop smuggling in former customs and tax commissioner Guillermo Parayno, whom he interviewed for the BoC post in July 2010 and was a consultant on customs reform with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
But Aquino did not appoint Parayno. What’s worse, the Palace never bothered to investigate rising smuggling. Even when more than 2,000 cargo containers yet to be inspected and taxed, went missing in transit between Manila container yards and other ports—the worst spate of smuggling in the country ever.
Hence, contraband as estimated using IMF data, leapt five-fold from pre-Aquino levels to a record $19 billion a year in 2011 and 2012, losing P100 billion annually just on evaded value-added tax alone, and not counting luxury, excise and other levies. What’s worse is the cost in lives ruined and lost due to the influx of drugs and guns.
Imagine how much weaponry and narcotics could slip in hidden in just a single shipping container. We lost thousands, with zero effort to track down the perpetrators. And the impact on crime was predictable.
In the months after the container disappearances, street prices of firearms and narcotics dropped amid abundant supply. And in the first half of 2012, Metro Manila recorded a 60-percent rise in crime. Ordered to stop the scourge, many police evidently doctored the appalling numbers instead.
More contraband ahead
Will the flow of contraband drugs and guns stop? It’s hard to be optimistic, especially with the 2016 polls escalating demand for political funding. It traditionally comes from pork barrel, jueteng and smuggling, but with the congressional largesse declared unconstitutional, illicit numbers and contraband would likely pick up the slack.
It doesn’t help that the government is now moving more than 16,000 containers from clogged Manila ports to Subic, hence the horrendous daily traffic jams in Metro Manila and the North Luzon Expressway for the next two weeks. Plainly, the BoC does not have enough personnel to monitor more than a fraction of those containers.
Now if more than 2,000 vanished in 2011 amid normal levels of port-to-port transit, one shudders how many could go missing when the cargo caravan is several times bigger and running 24/7. Even if just one percent disappear, that’s 160 containers — any number of which can conceal pistols, rifles, bullets, even grenades; plus shabu, heroin, marijuana, and narcotics equipment.
What a deluge of killer contraband Aquino unleashed upon our people.
(The last part on Thursday will discuss how jueteng and misrule of law fueled crime.)