• The economics of crime and sabotage

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    Ej Lopez

    Ej Lopez

    IT has become (or is it already?) a common occurrence for Filipinos to read in the newspaper that grisly criminal acts are committed in our community on a regular basis; in fact, as unfailing as our craving for a cup of coffee every morning. Crimes in the country have become bolder and ghastlier by the day—from murder, rape and holdups to high-profile kidnapping for ransom, they have become a common phenomenon committed with impunity. What makes it so despicable is that some men in uniform, the very people who should be providing us protection and security in the first place, have become party to these dreadful crimes.

    The alarming situation in our midst should (or must) put the Office of the President on notice. People, rich or poor, professionals, civilians and students fear for their safety when they are out in the streets (or even inside their houses). Their daily struggle for survival, itself already a challenge, is made more difficult by the threat of facing lawless elements that roam the streets. People who religiously pay their taxes and support the government are helpless and yet have no assurance of security and protection in the face of these criminal elements.

    The majority of our people who obey the rule of law are like pawns exposed to the dangers of everyday life aggravated by the uncontrolled rise of criminality in the country. In the absence of any government assurance of safety, people have no other recourse but to seek divine intervention for their safety because they have lost trust even in the people who are supposed to protect them. These criminal elements that roam the streets of the metropolis, ready to strike at hapless victims, have sown fear upon the ordinary citizens who are unaware if they will be the next victim, and yet the government has done nothing radical or significant except to merely condemn these criminal acts.

    Crime in Metro Manila up
    The Philippine National Police (PNP) said crime incidents went up from 245,347 nationwide in the first five months of 2013 to 289,198 in the same period this year. Out of the total figure, Metro Manila posted 59,448 incidents, an increase of 13 percent or 7,564 crimes from last year’s 51,884 incidents. Not included in the PNP’s account are the unreported incidents at the barangay level which comprise a bigger number and perhaps include more serious cases like rapes and homicides.

    What is appalling about this dilemma is the fact that people are now confused as to where and to whom they should go to seek refuge in times of crisis. Should they go to the police authorities, in whom public confidence has eroded because of the many incidents of involvement in criminal activities, should they go to the political authorities, whose main agenda does not prioritize the people’s welfare, or should we just entrust ourselves to the intercession and protection of our divine maker?

    Economic sabotage and saboteurs
    It seems that the people who caused the unprecedented traffic jam last week in Metro Manila have chosen to remain silent, realizing the great economic and business catastrophe they have created. Now they are beginning to realize the enormity of the damage they have caused and the lost business opportunities that transpired as a result of what they perceived to be a solution to the perennial traffic problem in Manila. How many business opportunities were lost as a result of the traffic congestion can only be imagined, while many existing businesses are contemplating of closing and diverting their investments to other countries because of wrong government priorities. What happened in Manila was a simple case of “arresting a snatcher using the entire armed forces of the Philippines.”

    Last week’s major traffic snarl will surely affect the perception of rating agencies in coming days or weeks. The local executives of Manila should have started from the basics in addressing the problem of traffic congestion. Imagine the opportunity costs that were given up due to the congestion. Even the “Port King” [billionaire businessman Enrique Razon]has said his piece regarding this nightmarish congestion at the ports where delays could cost the country as much as P320 billion annually, as another columnist put it.

    The national government, for its part, should have acted immediately instead of intervening only when the problem was already full blown. It should have set aside “delicadeza” [sense of propriety]in favor of economic and people’s welfare. The situation where the Manila ports have already reached their full capacity of less than a hundred thousand containers is enough to create a slowdown in business operations and dent economic growth, and could be nearing what is called a case of “economic sabotage.”

    Postscript:
    This column requests friends and acquaintances of Rev. Fr. Roberto Pinto, O.P., to pray for his speedy recovery.

    For comments e-mail: doc.ejlopez@gmail.com.

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