Last of the two-part series “Crime has doubled under Aquino. Here’s why”
The doubling of crime volume since 2010 to more than 630,000 incidents last year and possibly up to 750,000 this year, must be at least as big a media story as pork barrel and Supertyphoon Yolanda. One has to credit the administration’s press clout that hardly any news reports have headlined those appalling numbers, soaring despite economic growth and increased police deployment and gear.
The unprecedented crime wave has surely produced a body count rivaling the estimated 10,000-15,000 across Haiyan-hit Visayas. And in terms of lawlessness and sleaze, criminal elements are not far behind legislators and operators skimming off the illegal Priority Development Assistance Fund and Disbursement Acceleration Program, which together amount to almost a quarter of a trillion pesos.
The first part of this article, published on Tuesday, covered the alarming crime data and how police fudged figures until PNP Chief Purisima disclosed the real numbers just this June. Part 1 also discussed the exacerbating impact of record smuggling—six times past levels—on lawlessness, especially the influx of contraband guns and drugs deplored by Aquino himself in his 2013 State of the Nation Address (SONA).
In this final part, we cover two other big factors behind today’s unprecedented crime wave: jueteng and unaccountable leadership.
Gambling from Cory to Noynoy
Academics and media cite two pernicious effects of jueteng on crime: it creates syndicates and corrupts law enforcers and political leaders. Once vice is banned, explains professor Alfred McCoy in his book on American colonialism, Capillaries of Empire, “a symbiosis of politicians, police, and vice entrepreneurs can foster powerful syndicates and a high volume of illicit activity.”
The American academic best known hereabouts for his writings on the Marcos regime, recounts that faced with coup attempts, “the [Corazon] Aquino administration (1986 –92), desperate for cash to build a private army and a bloc of loyal legislators, forged the first explicit alliance between the national executive and provincial jueteng bosses.” That collusion has continued through succeeding administrations down to her own son’s rule.
In July 2010, the first month of the second Aquino administration, anti-gambling crusader Archbishop Oscar Cruz named presidential shooting buddy Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno, who supervised the PNP for Malacañang, as “ultimate recipient” of jueteng payoffs, along with then-PNP Chief Jesus Versoza. Aquino dismissed the accusation without investigation.
The President did order Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, who eradicated the vice in Naga when he was mayor, to crack down on it. But crucially, Aquino kept control of the national police, the main weapon against jueteng, through Puno. And Aquino never followed up the anti-gambling campaign nor mentioned it in his SONAs. Indeed, he was quoted saying that eradicating jueteng was not his priority.
‘Jueteng is stronger now’
Two years later Archbishop Cruz sighed: “Jueteng did not just boom; the operation is much stronger now.” Sandra Cam, a numbers operator-turned-whistleblower, counted four draws a day, instead of the previous two or three. She said the vice had spread to Iloilo and Negros in the region of current Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, who took over after Robredo’s fatal plane crash in August 2012.
In December 2012, Roxas told PNP Chief Purisima to include in the 2013 election security plan “a no-nonsense campaign against jueteng, because many of the jueteng lords have themselves become political warlords who could thwart the people’s true will” in the polls. Roxas also intimated that he would move against jueteng in Pampanga. But like so many past so-called wars on jueteng, nothing much happened.
In January 2013, how much the vice corrupted law enforcers became bloodily clear with the ambush of a suspected jueteng lord allegedly staged by police and soldiers at a checkpoint in Atimonan, Quezon. Led by PNP Superintendent Hansel Marantan, the uniformed suspects killed 13 men in two black Montero sport utility vehicles, including reputed gambling kingpin Vic Siman and ranking police officers with him.
Cam saw the carnage as a battle over jueteng turf. Investigators said Marantan had reason to kill Siman, whose jueteng rival in Laguna, known as “Ka Tita,” was under the superintendent’s protection. Archbishop Cruz believed the probe had been diverted away from people close to the Palace. Aquino’s top aide, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, head of the hugely funded Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission, admitted providing P100,000 for Marantan’s Atimonan operation.
Having decided to keep illegal numbers going and not let its Naga nemesis Robredo wipe it out, Aquino has allowed syndicates of jueteng lords, their political patrons and police protectors flourish nationwide. That cannot but make law enforcers susceptible to allowing or even committing crime for personal gain, like this week’s EDSA abduction by six police—not just illicit gaming, but narcotics, kidnapping, carnapping, robbery, even murdering fellow police officers for jueteng loot.
If politicians and PNP brass are on the take, why not the cops risking lives on the beat?
When the leader breaks the law
Also fueling police corruption and even lawlessness is Aquino’s incorrigible “KKK” cronyism, constantly protecting his “kaklase, kakampi, kabarilan” (schoolmates, allies and shooting buddies) in anomalies and fiascos. Aquino sent that message at the outset by junking the October 2010 incident report on the Luneta hostage crisis instead of sanctioning shooting buddy Puno and family friend Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, who were among those found culpable in handling the crisis.
That cronyism demonstrated that those Aquino favored escape accountability. From Ochoa’s reported P40 million mansion to the overpriced billion-peso PNP firearms bidding supervised by Puno, Malacañang absolved KKK irregularities, often without serious investigation. Some, like three Bureau of Corrections directors and Land Transportation Office head Virginia Torres, had to quit, but still evaded punishment.
Now, Aquino has taken shirking accountability to a new level, openly disputing Supreme Court rulings and advocating curbs on the Judiciary’s power to hold the Executive and the Legislative in check. He also claims good faith in violating the Constitution’s simple and crystal-clear ban on spending funds without budget approval.
If police learn from presidential example that the law need not be enforced if those in power don’t care for it, guess the effect on lawlessness. Actually, there’s no need to wonder: the doubling of crime under Aquino is precisely the inevitable result of not holding presidential kith, kin and self to account, plus the gush of contraband guns and drugs, and the corrupting lucre of jueteng.
If the leader breaks the law, don’t expect those under him to enforce it.
(The first part of “Crime has doubled under President Aquino. Here’s why,” was published on Tuesday.)