I don’t have the statistics, but it sure seems as if petty crime is on the rise all over the National Capital Region, but most especially in the capital City of Manila.
Not just petty crimes, in fact, but also serious ones.
Earlier this week, my favorite foodie Nancy Reyes lost her handbag after it was grabbed from inside her car by two motorcycle riding men. I used to write for a magazine that Nancy edited and found her to be one of the nicest ladies in the industry. It was a food mag, of course. A brother of hers was a batchmate in high school, and he was one of the toughest dudes of our era. Sadly, he passed away not too long ago.
A couple of weeks ago, I also fell victim to the fast hands of a petty crook inside Robinson’s Mall in Ermita, Manila. I lost my favorite toy.
A few months ago, my daughter lost her brand new iPad and not-so-new laptop after someone forcibly opened her car while parked in front of a bank.
The latter two incidents were caught on CCTV, but the crooks were never apprehended.
Finally, one of my students at the Manila Times lost her wallet, taken from her handbag while she was window shopping inside SM Manila. She was lucky the loose change in her pocket was enough for her fare home.
These are petty crimes all, and thankfully none of the characters mentioned was hurt.
Nor so with an incident that took place this week. A bank executive was shot and killed inside her car by another pair of men riding in tandem. What is so chilling about this killing is that it occurred in broad daylight in front of the NBI headquarters along Taft Avenue, Manila.
That is a warning to all of us that the situation may be getting out of hand.
It sure seems as if Manila Mayor-elect Erap Estrada has his work cut out for him. He will need to take stricter measures against the city’s criminal elements, something his predecessor Fred Lim had been expected to do having been a top cop in his younger days.
Lim was also NBI chief at one time, besides being head of the Western Police District AKA Manila’s Finest.
Whether Lim failed to live up to his reputation as a crime fighter is no longer relevant. What is relevant is that the residents of the city and those of us who work in the capital should be made to feel safe. There’s a general feeling that crime can happen anytime to anyone.
Another small tale: A few months ago, I was riding a jeep heading for SM Manila from The Manila Times office in Intramuros. It must have been around 8 p.m. At the Anda Circle, a young man jumped into the jeep, quickly dismantled a cell phone, threw away its SIM card and reassembled the phone in a matter of seconds. He got off, totally ignoring the passengers.
All of us passengers knew what had just happened. He had snatched the cell phone from a pedestrian, and made sure that it could no longer be traced to him.
Maybe there’s hope for the nation’s capital. Erap will soon be in charge, As vice-president, he headed the Presidential Anti-Crime Commission and, later, the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force. If he can make Manila safer by ridding it of its crooks, then the millions of residents, students and workers based in the city will be eternally grateful.
It could yet be his last great role, his grand exit from public life.