• Presidentiables brief: The Crime Explosion (2)


    Second in a series of articles on national concerns. Last of two parts on crime increase under Pres. BS Aquino.

    YOU’D think it would make headlines: the tripling of crime under President Benigno Aquino 3rd. Yet three days after this column reported at the very top of this paper’s front page, citing official data, that crime incidents trebled to 1.16 million in 2014, from 324,083 the year he took office, no other major media has taken up the story. Google “crime under Aquino,” set the search period for “Past week,” and see what you get.

    Maybe more unprecedented numbers will get media attention. How about smuggling?
    As seen in the data table below, calculated by this writer’s CenSEI research group using International Monetary Fund trade data, the value of contraband under President Benigno Aquino 3rd surged to $26.6 billion, the highest in the country ever.

    That’s more than three times the $7.9 billion estimate for 2009, based on the difference between total imports recorded by the Philippines and total exports to the country reported by all our trading partners, minus the cost of shipping and insurance.

    As a percentage of exports to the country reported by other nations, the share of illicit goods nearly doubled to 27.2 percent last year, from 14.7 percent in 2009. That means more and more of our imports come in under-declared in value or simply undetected.
    And that’s based on exports and imports officially recorded. Far more may be going in and out without being seen.

    Last year, “Illicit Financial Flows to and from the Philippines,”  a study by Global Financial Integrity, an international non-government organization, reckoned that “over the past decade, 25 percent of the value of all goods imported into the Philippines — or 1 out of every 4 dollars — goes unreported to customs officials.”

    Record smuggling fuels crime

    That may be disturbing, some may say, but what’s smuggling got to do with crime? A lot.
    To quote President Aquino himself, lambasting corrupt customs personnel in his 2013 State of the Nation Address: “Instead of collecting the proper taxes and preventing contraband from entering the country, they are 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.’ ”

    Plainly, record smuggling is putting more guns in criminal hands, and more drugs into junkies, driving many to crime. That’s not all. Study after study have established the symbiotic link between crime syndicates and contraband, with illicit trade giving lawless groups more cash and connections to buy off police, investigators, prosecutors, judges, mayors, governors, and national officials.

    The 2003 paper “Corruption, Contraband and Organized Crime in Southeast Europe,” published by Sofia-based Center for the Study of Democracy, warned that smuggling “has become a breeding ground for organized crime on a regional scale.” The UN Office on Drugs and Crime study on “The Globalization of Crime” expounds on how smuggling of everything from guns and narcotics to counterfeit medicines (the latter prevalent in Southeast Asia) boosts transnational crime.


    It’s no mere coincidence that both crime and smuggling have tripled under Aquino. Hence, along with getting crime data right (discussed in Part 1, published Tuesday), a second law enforcement priority for the next administration must be to drastically reduce smuggling to stanch the flow of guns, drugs, and contraband profits to criminal syndicates.
    Transforming the police

    A third presidential priority in the fight against crime is the constant monitoring, fine-tuning and implementation of the PNP Transformation Roadmap 2030, the latest iteration of a program first drafted in 2003 and revised over the years. An overview is available at: https://www.cpsm.ph/pgs-overview.xml.

    Once correct crime data are finally obtained, the next government should review the PNP 2030 plan and ensure that its key thrusts are in line with law enforcement challenges in years and decades ahead. That includes not just traditional threats, but also new ones, especially cybercrime.

    “Politics and Policing in the Philippines,” a 2010 paper by Glenn Varona for the Flinders Journal of History and Politics, published in Australia, provides an insightful analysis of the PNP based on history and current developments.

    It lists PNP needs as of 2009, based on the transformation plan then. The police lacked 14,524 land vehicles; in his latest SONA, President Aquino said the government was buying 2,523, with 302 already acquired. He said 12,399 communication radios were distributed; that’s about half the 25,289 in Varona’s wishlist.

    Also mission-critical: four-fifths of the 1,282 police stations nationwide were in a “sorry state,” said Varona: “made of substandard materials, are not conducive to security and are ill equipped. Many stations do not have computers, fax machines, or even the most rudimentary office equipment and supplies.”

    The police-politics nexus

    Varona’s paper also devoted much discussion on how the country’s dysfunctional politics hampered law enforcement. This demands a separate discussion of governance, but there are two ideas worth considering now, to ensure that political leaders, while rightly given control of security forces, are also pressured to do their part in law enforcement.

    One is to institute regular surveys on crime in provinces, cities and towns, to be jointly conducted by the Commission on Audit, the National Police Commission, and civil society groups. This would not only help verify crime data, but also pressure local leaders and police to address peace and order concerns.

    The other is the past Bantay-Sakdal program monitoring and prodding high-profile criminal cases, in a joint effort by the Interior and Justice Departments, the Supreme Court, law schools, anti-crime groups, and media. Bantay-Sakdal kept public attention focused on investigation and prosecution of major crimes all the way to conviction.

    Working together to put away big criminal fish will build trust and cooperation between the police and the people — the most important weapon against lawlessness.


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    1. 1> Instead of curbing smuggling , they want to overtax the balikbayan box !!!!

      2> Rather than go against loose firearms, they make the red tape encountered in the
      getting of License to Own and Possess Firearms almost a discouragement to registered
      firearms owners !!!!!!!

    2. So the crime rate tripled from 300,000+ to 1.1 Million, and smuggling from $8 Billion to $26 Billion under this retardate? Even the low figures cannot be acceptable except for fools, especially when you compare these figures to those of the Marcos regime. The point is it is not just Boy Sayad that must bear the blame but the yellow regime that put him there, the same regime that put GMA, FVR and Cory in power. These were the leaders under whom these crime and smuggling figures stared to deteriorate. It is not the replacement of this BS that will bring change that we are all craving for but the complete dismantling of this vile and plainly incompetent regime. Just as a reminder, no matter how he packages himself, Binay is a yellow to the bone. So is, surprisingly, the adopted daughter of FPJ who is now being pushed by the same yellow forces who cheated him in 2004. So is Mar Roxas. After 30 years and stratospheric crime and smuggling rates, its still ‘LONG LIVE THE YELLOWS” for the people? Bizarre isn’t it?

    3. Ang tunay na problema ay nasa taong bayan dahil hinahayaan nila ang nakikita at naririnig na mga pangyayari sa kanilang paligid. Isa sa mga nag papalala’ nang problema natin ay ang Media Companies (print, air and TV) na may pinapanigang partido. Hindi nila ibinabalita kapag ang nasa hot spot ay kapanalig o sponsors nila. At ang gagawin pa nang mga ito ay mag lalabas nang baluktot na pahayag para sirain kung ano ang yung dapat na malaman ng mga tao.

      At isa sa mga pinaka salot sa ating lipunan ay ang sector nang mga abogado na binabaluktot ang batas, dahil sa kanilang tingin, kapag ang mali’ na-e-panalo nila o di kaya ay yung tama ay na nagawa nilang mali’ at na-e-panalo din nila ay magaling na silang abogado. At eto pa, ang karamihan sa kanila ay mukhang pera na gusto kang susuhin hanggang ikaw ay maging tuod, at iyan ang tutuo.

      Ngayon sasabihin nila na bobo ang mga botante. Eh sino ba ang nag pa bobo sa mga ito. Manuod kayo sa mga local channels at ang tatambad sa inyo ay mga drama, game show, showbiz na puro ka-artehan, Phil. Sports show na pag dating sa tunay na laban ay wala namang ma-e-uwi na karangalan. Mga documentary kuno (pag dayo sa local communities sa ibat-ibang parte ng Pinas kuno!) na pa-ulit-ulit na ipinalalabas, pero ilang taon na ang nakalipas ay sige parin na ipinalalabas. Hindi ba nila alam na nag babago ang panahon na yung kahapon ay iba na ngayon. Higid sa lahat ay tambak nang commercials ang mga pesteng channels na ito.

      Tingnan ninyo ang bagong henerasyon nang mga kabataan natin, karamihan ay walang alam kung ano ang tunay na lagay ng buhay kung saan umi-ikot ang kanilang mundo. Ano sa palagay ninyo, hindi pa ba hopeless ang bansang ito? Kailan tayo magigising sa katotohanan?

    4. The problem in the Philippines today is everyone knows about the rampant corruption going in all areas, but the people tolerate or even participate in the criminalities perpetuated by government officials. Everyone knows about what the Binays, Aquinos, Estradas, and all the rests have done or doing, but nothing is being done to any of the corrupt officials. Yet, when the newspapers write about who the front runners for president, you see names of people associated with scandals, sheer incompetence or lack of any accomplishment to show ability to lead a nation. For example, BS Aquino had done nothing in congress or Binay could not explain how he was able to afford creating and owning an entire community. Estrada was convicted of corruption when he was president, though pardoned by an equally morally bankrupt government official, 12 million Filipinos still voted for him when he ran for president. People just do not care.

    5. Mr Saludo, Could you also check on this announcement of Comm Lina, the custom chief that they will enforce strict inspection on the balik bayan boxes being sent home by OFW as this is being used to smuggle goods that should be taxed. According to him, the law creating the bringing in our country tax free balik bayan boxes is already obsolete.
      Who is he to declare that this law is already obsolete? Is Mr Lina not aware that a balik bayan box could not contain items that could be commercial in quantity? Are the reported tara or lagay coming from the owners of the large container vans allegedly given to custom personnel not enough for them?

      • itong balikbayan boxes from expats and ofws ang madaling pagkakitaan kasi walang koneksyon sa administration ang mga recipients nito. ordinaryong tao lang katulad natin na pinasasaya ng mga kamaganak na nakatira sa ibang bansa tuwing christmas season. toong may mga highly dutiable goods na nailalagay sa boxes and also firearms pero ito ay hindi kalakihan. sa mga boxes galing sa america, ito ay nagdadaan sa masusing inspeksyon sa port of origin. pero yung mga kontrabando na sakay ng mga container vans ay pinalulusot kasi may koneksyon ang mga recipients nito sa mga politiko o opisyales ng pamahalaan. pero siguro pag ang ginamit mong forwarder ay isa sa mga kumpanya ni mr boc, lusot lahat ang kargamento mo, he he he

    6. Rogelio C. Lim on

      Kung sakaling na-headline ang tripleng pagtaas ng krimen at smuggling, tiyak na, katulad ng heavy traffic, sasabihin ni Noynoy na ito ay “signs of progress.” Ganyan niya niloloko ang taongbayan.