WAKING up to the news of simultaneous terrorist attacks in Paris was indeed a horrible thing. Mabigat sa dibdib!
At least 80 of the initial 128 people killed were innocent civilians who were just trying to enjoy themselves watching California’s rock band Eagles of Death Metal perform at the 1,500-seater Bataclan concert hall.
People were shot dead in restaurants and bars at five other sites in Paris where at least 180 people were reported injured.
The night of gun and bomb attacks in the City of Lights was said to be the deadliest attacks in Europe since the 2004 Madrid bombings and the second in Paris in less than a year. In early January, Islamist gunmen murdered 18 people after attacking satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, a Jewish supermarket and a policewoman on patrol.
The day after, it was reported that in Beirut, Lebanon, two suicide bombers on motorcycles killed at least 43 people and wounded more than 200 others. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) had claimed responsibility for one of the worst attacks in years in Lebanon.
While watching the international news on television on Saturday morning, I had the same feeling of anxiety I had while seeing the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers in New York unfold on screen.
France is hosting in Paris on November 30 to December 11 a UN conference on fighting climate change with about 127 world leaders attending.
While Paris is almost 11,000 kilometers and Beirut is 8,700 kilometers away from the Philippines, it is discomforting to think about possibilities of a similar outrageous scenario happening here when leaders of the 20 state and territories comprising the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) are gathered in Manila for their 23rd annual summit starting this week.
We would expect tighter security measures in Metro Manila, particularly in the areas where delegates to the international event are expected to move around.
What gives this feeling of anxiety and fear is the proven incompetence of government authorities, particularly the Philippine National Police (PNP), to prevent crimes. Worse, law enforcers are often involved in criminal activities themselves.
We cannot feel safe anymore even in our own homes.
We see policemen everywhere, outside banks, around churches, outside restaurants and other public places. They are all over. But what are they doing? They do all sorts of things but you hardly notice them being alert and watchful of the surroundings. Their mere presence doesn’t give a feeling of security.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) show that the number of reported crimes has alarmingly risen from 217,812 in 2012 to 1,033,833 in 2013 and further to 1,161,188 in 2014.
Of these figures, the PSA data showed 79,878 crimes solved in 2012 and 295,237 in 2013, with a declining efficiency rate of 36.67 percent and 28.56 percent, respectively.
But for the first six months of 2015, the PNP claims that the total crime volume has decreased by 15.36 percent, citing comparative crime statistics culled by the Research and Analysis Division of the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (CIDM) that show recorded total crime volume of 509,924 in January to June against 602,449 posted during the same six-month period in 2014.
If the tanim-bala (bullet-planting) that has been going on for years at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) can continue despite embarrassing worldwide publicity, how can we be confident that we can breeze through the airport checks without hassle?
Given this crime-solving efficiency rate of the law enforcement agencies, how can we feel safe even in our own homes? How can we expect them to be better in fighting high crimes like terrorism?
We often hear police officers say that visibility helps prevent crime. Have they not heard or are they just blind to the fact that many policemen are themselves involved in criminal activities, either as the criminals themselves or as protectors?
Of course, there are a few good men out there who are dedicated to their sworn duty, but the bad eggs seem to outnumber the good ones.
We have our own share of problems with terrorism, both local and international breeds.
And if the government’s response to potential terror attacks is like what happened in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, in January, it is going to be very costly in terms of money and loss of lives.
One life lost is one too many anywhere in the world, particularly if one whose life is lost is an innocent civilian who is simply trying to enjoy life in a concert or restaurant.
If the November 13 terror attacks in Paris can happen in an advanced country like France, it can also happen in a small country like the Philippines. The big difference lies in the efficiency and competence in handling situations like that.
The performance of our law enforcement agency is obviously not in sync with its spoken philosophy of service, honor and justice.