Presidentiables briefing: The crime explosion

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Second in a series of articles on national concerns

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That headline may sound alarmist — until one learns that crime has more than tripled since the year President Benigno Aquino 3rd took office.

Yes, crime has trebled since 2010.

If this is black propaganda, then the Philippine Statistics Authority is now an anti-Aquino propagandist. For in the PSA’s annual Philippines In Figures reports, total crimes reached 1.16 million last year, almost three and a half times the 324,083 cases in 2010.

Crime incidence per 100,000 population also nearly tripled to 1,004 in 2014, from 350 four years before. Index crimes, which include major offenses like murder, rape and robbery, more than doubled to nearly half a million in 2014, from just over 200,000 in 2010. Per 100,000 population, index crimes went from 218 to 493 in the same period.

Crimes against persons hit 258,444 — triple the 2010 number, while crimes against property jumped 94 percent, from 118,943 to 231,005 four years later. Physical injury, rape and theft more than doubled.

And all types of index crimes reached their highest levels since 2009, when the Philippine National Police adopted its Unit Crime Periodic Report system, which recorded tens of thousands of crimes undetected in previous years.

To check the foregoing figures. download the annual Philippines In Figures data books from the Philippine Statistics Authority (https://psa.gov.ph/content/philippines-figures-0) and check Crime and Delinquency data somewhere between pages 20 and 27. Do it pronto, before someone has the bright idea of making the reports inaccessible.

So what should presidential candidates focus on in addressing this unprecedented crime wave, which partly happened while one presidentiable headed the Department of Interior and Local Government and the National Police Commission supervising the Philippine National Police?

Should the PNP recruit more cops to bring the ratio of law enforcers to population closer to the one-to-450 minimum recommended by the United Nations, from the current 636, based on the PNP’s reported 160,000 force? Perhaps the DILG ought to level-up police-community cooperation? Or should the Napolcom more strictly enforce standards of integrity, discipline and performance?

In truth, the PNP and its supervising agencies must work on something far more basic: arithmetic.

The PNP has lost count
From data and news reports, it seems police chiefs didn’t properly report crime statistics for 2011 and 2012, despite more improved data gathering under the PNP Crime Incident Reporting System (e-CIRS) or “e-blotter” system instituted in 2011.

After Metro Manila crime rose some 60 percent in the first half of that year, law enforcers seemed to make gains. Incidents fell by more than half in 2011 and continued falling by another 10 percent the following year. And the percentage of cases solved doubled in two years to 36 percent in 2012.

Then came reports in late 2013 of local police chiefs removed or investigated for misreporting crime statistics. The PNP relieved and charged the Mandaluyong, Pasay, and Taguig chiefs, while probing seven other Metro Manila chiefs and station managers. Similar action was taken elsewhere; in Bicol, six police chiefs were sacked for erroneous data.

Afterward, in June last year, then PNP Chief Alan Purisima released corrected data (see “Crime has doubled under Aquino” at http://www.manilatimes.net/crime-doubled-aquino-heres/125276/), and six months later, the law enforcement agency announced its “genuine crime reporting” program, reportedly an enhancement of its PNP Integrated Patrol System (PIPS) backed by outgoing DILG Secretary Mar Roxas.

Improved PIPS reporting, aided by PNP intelligence and crime investigation units, found that total crime exceeded 1 million in each of the past two years, triple the 2010 level. That should have been the end of the numbers problem, except for the full investigation and punishment of erring police chiefs. But unfortunately, there’s more dubious data.

PNP reveals the truth soon after the SONA
Days after President Aquino said in his State of the Nation Address last month that crime had gone down, echoing Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda’s report in June that Metro Manila offenses fell by 62 percent from a year before, the PNP Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management, a key unit in charge of data gathering, said crime was up 46 percent nationwide.

PNP-DIDM cited data for January-June this year: 885,445 crimes reported, up from 603,085 in the first semester of 2014. Index crimes surged 37 percent to 352,321. Murders jumped by 45 percent to 7,245 cases, while physical injury rose by half to 182,886 incidents. Thefts hit 105,229, up by nearly 20,000 from a year ago. And watch your car — carnapping nearly doubled to 10,039.

Then, soon after the numbers went public, PNP-DIDM head Augusto Marquez backtracked. He claimed that he could not verify and had to exclude from the tally 375,521 cases — two-fifths of the 885,445 first-semester count. Thus, he said only 509,924 crimes were tallied nationwide in January-June, down 15 percent from 2014.

So picture this: After data system enhancements in 2009, 2011 and 2014, with many police chiefs relieved or investigated for faulty figures less than two years ago, PNP-DIDM, a key data unit, cannot verify 42 percent of cases more than a month after the last of them happened.

Or worse: higher-ups made Marquez recant, so Aquino’s SONA claim of less crime won’t look bogus.

Whichever it is, there is one sure law enforcement priority for the next Chief Executive: crime data gathering must be thoroughly evaluated and made fully transparent, timely and truthful. That is a must for two big reasons.

First, knowing how many and what types of crimes are committed and where is indispensable not only to effectively fight them, but also to correctly allocate or acquire PNP personnel, resources, and training.

Even more important, if law enforcers do not truthfully report crime, then it calls into question their competence, diligence, and integrity. And incompetent, negligent and dishonest cops contribute to crime and should be fired.

(The last part will run on Thursday.)

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1 Comment

  1. Vic Penetrante on

    The government’s budget keeps on increasing yearly. Politicians must have a bigger and bigger pot to dip their fingers into. Cops and robbers simply want to participate.