It’s not a given or an iron law of statistics that a place with the biggest population and the highest population density should also record the most number of index crimes or host the most number of criminals.
Sometimes, effective public administration can confound the law of averages and shape reality.
Quezon City, the most populous city of the Philippines, has also the dubious distinction of recording the most number of index crimes within a 5-year period.
In a report released on April 1, the Philippine National Police (PNP) reported that over the period from 2010 to 2015, Quezon City posted the highest number of index crimes among 15 cities in the Philippines.
Index crimes, according to the PNP, involve (1) crimes against persons such as murder, homicide, physical injury and rape, and (2) crimes against property such as robbery, theft, carnapping/carjacking, and cattle rustling.
The city of Manila came in second with a total of 54,689 index crimes. Cebu City ranked third with 38,797 index crimes, followed by Davao City with 37,684. Cagayan de Oro City came in fifth with 31,345.
The full list according to ranking (only 1st to 5th have number of index crimes) is as follows:
Quezon City, 65,514 index crimes (IC)
Manila, 54,689 IC
Cebu City, 38,797 IC
Davao City, 37,684 IC
Cagayan de Oro City, 31, 345 IC
General Santos City
The list is of more than routine interest, because it reflects on the quality of city administration and quality of life or liveability. And this addresses a point of contention in the current election campaign.
Presidential candidates Mar Roxas and Rody Duterte have tangled heatedly over Roxas’ contention that the reputation of Davao City as a safe and peaceful city is largely a myth fostered by Mayor Duterte’s propaganda.
Vice President Binay may have something going for him because his turf, Makati City, ranks 12th in the list. And he built his reputation on transforming Makati into a safe and prosperous city.
The quality of city administration definitely accounts a lot for the level of crime incidence within every jurisdiction. Wherever the incumbent city mayor lays emphasis on law and order, and directs resources accordingly, crime is kept under control. Wherever vice is tolerated, crime incidence is high.
Quezon City’s preeminence has been fueled not only by its big population, but by its high squatter population, the highest in the country. Successive city administrations have struggled to control the prolifieration of squatters in the city. The long nine-year incumbency of aged former mayor now Speaker Feliciano Belmonte coincided with general laxness in law enforcement and poor public services.
Manila has persisted at close to the top in rankings, despite having as mayor for several terms the original “Dirty Harry” of the Philippines, former police officer Alfredo Lim.
Perhaps the most sensible way to view the crime index and rankings is to look at it as a measure of liveability.
Wherever crime incidence is high, the rule of law is weak. Wherever city administration is proactive and effective, people can live in peace and feel more secure.
In the May 9 elections, the voters in the 15 cities will have a chance to show their satisfaction and displeasure over the state of law and order in their cities.