AMID Malacañang’s admission that it is difficult to curb crime, the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) called on President Benigno Aquino 3rd to sack Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd and Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima for their failure to address “the worsening crime rate in the country.”
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. cited on Wednesday the acute lack of policemen as a reason behind the seeming rise of criminality in the country. He said the “systemic” problem of crime also leads to the low solution rate for criminal cases.
But Coloma insisted that the government is working to address these shortcomings and that the PNP is determined to step up its campaign against crime prevention.
These assurances, however, failed to comfort the VACC, which noted the three-fold increase in crimes such as murder, robbery with homicide, illegal drug trafficking and rape over the past four years.
In a letter addressed to the President dated June 17, Dante Jimenez, founding chairman of VACC, noted that that murders and robberies that are reported in the media every day indicate that the peace and order in the country is deteriorating fast.
Jimenez said most killings are carried out by gunmen on motorcycles and many such incidents remained unsolved.
“The escape of convicted felons in heinous crime cases from jails and [the grant]of special treatment to rich and influential prisoners have also become rampant,” he pointed out.
Jimenez said the President should sack Roxas and Purisima so that they can be replaced by competent individuals. As secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government, Roxas has control of the PNP.
His group is also suggesting the removal from the service of all crooked police officials who have been recidivists and those involved in various irregularities in the PNP. It also sought a review of cases of police officers involved in criminal activities but who were ordered reinstated by the National Police Commission.
Coloma said as part of the campaign to deter crime, more uniformed policemen were deployed in the communities.
“In 1986, when the population was only 50 million, the strength of the [police force]was more or less 125,000. So that’s a coverage ratio of one police officer per 400 citizens,” the official explained.
Coloma bewailed the fact that the PNP now has only a force of 148,000 when the population has surged dramatically to 97 million.
“Therefore, the coverage ratio has increased to one police officer for
every 675. Even if they recruit 18,500 additional police officers, the ratio would be reduced to one for every 579,” he said.
At the same time, Coloma added that he finds it “unacceptable” that the solution rate of crimes improved only from 13 percent to 37 percent, which means that only one in three cases is resolved.
“As far as we are concerned, that is not acceptable because this means that only one out of three crimes are being solved… If citizens are aware that [a]crime will remain unsolved anyway, then this would really embolden criminals in committing their misdeeds,” he said.
“So we have to intensify our crime prevention and law enforcement efforts despite what the figures may be showing now,” Coloma added.
He said crime solution must be “100 percent.”
“There should be no unsolved crime. So we are saying that we would like to be able to improve despite figures that say there are already improvements because unsolved crimes are not acceptable in our standards,” Coloma added.
Despite these shortcomings, he said law enforcement fares well under the system at present, which, however, has “systemic problems.”
“The law enforcement aspect is only one of the elements of that system. What we face here is a systemic problem, which is the need to reform the entire criminal justice system, which we will have to do step-by-step,” Coloma pointed out.
He confirmed that the Palace received a letter from the VACC that proposed the setting up of a state-of-the-art prison facility and the requirement for motorcycle riders to wear vests with visible markings of the vehicle’s license plate.
“We welcome suggestions from citizens on how to improve law enforcement and crime prevention. VACC’s letter was received yesterday afternoon at the Office of the President and has been referred to the Office of the Executive Secretary. With regard to the reported claim by VACC that the crime rate has increased during the Aquino administration, we also take note of research data published by [another newspaper]showing that crime incidence had been dropping since 2010,” Coloma said.
To curb the rising crime wave, he noted that the PNP has directed the setting up of checkpoints in critical areas and ordered tighter gun control measures.
Despite the controversies hounding the PNP, Purisima said he has no plans of bowing out from the police service.
In an interview aired over ABS-CBN on Tuesday night, the PNP chief said he will continue working as the country’s top policeman until he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 56 in November next year.
Under Purisima’s leadership, the PNP has been under fire because of a number of “high-profile” incidents that has put the police chief’s leadership under a cloud.
Among the intrigues and controversies were the Atimonan Massacre, his order to stop support to the Officers’ Ladies Club, the plunder charges filed against him at the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the allegedly anomalous deal that the PNP entered into with a courier service and the series of killings nationwide, which has alarmed the President.
Purisima called a command conference on Monday to discuss ways to enhance security measures.
With Anthony Vargas