MANILA, Philippines – During a campaign in April 2016 in Cainta, a city in Rizal province near the Philippine capital, Manila, presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte used two words to describe how he would fight crime – press and stop.
"I can't really stop like in termination (crime)," he said later referring to crime. "As long as there are people, there are men and women and children in society, there will always be crime. When I said the persecution, it really stopped, "Duterte told thousands of people who came to the campaign to see candidates at the time who made waves with loud talks and explosives even on stage.
"Now, if you really want to stop, my order will be to shoot them all," Duterte said, referring to criminals. "If you are prosecuted, notify Duterte of the fiscal. Include Duterte because he gave the order," said the candidate at the time, giving a review of how he would order the police to fight crime if he became President.
Three years after he said those words, Duterte's brutal approach to fighting crime seemed successful, if data from the Philippine National Police (PNP) were used as a basis.
READ: Duterte vowed to fight corruption, crime if elected president
PNP notes said the volume of crime fell by at least 12.34 percent in 2016, even though the period covered by the data included the remaining months in Duterte's predecessor tenure, Benigno Aquino III.
In 2017, PNP data said the volume of crime had declined 6.17 percent when 2018 entered. This translates to 490,393 crimes. From January to May 2019, that amount was reduced to 191,808.
In another data set, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Regional Government (DILG) which oversees PNP, also said the volume of crime fell by 11 percent – from 488,644 cases between July 2017 and June 2018 to 438,496 from July 2018 to June 2019.
READ: DILG: Crime volume drops 11%
"We are on the right track," Brig said. General Bernard Banac, spokesperson for PNP, in an interview with INQUIRER.net.
Banac said police forces had seen "a steady and significant decline" in the number of crimes across the country. In the first three years of the Duterte administration, he said, the situation of peace and order in the Philippines "improved well" with the exception of several terror attacks in Mindanao, which were still under martial law.
Index & # 39; Less & # 39 ;, non-index crime
The same data also shows there are fewer index and non-index crime cases in the first three years of Duterte's government.
Index crime, or crime against people and property, is considered more serious. Some examples are murder, murder, rape, robbery, physical injury, theft, cattle rustling and car theft. Non-index crimes are those that are not defined as indices such as violations of specific laws or regional regulations.
Data from PNP shows the total number of crime indexes is 445,306 in 2016; 413,103 in 2017 (7.8 percent decrease); 408,980 in 2018 (only a decrease of 1.008 percent); and 164,210 from January to May 2019.
Non-index crime amounts to 139,577 in 2016; 107,538 in 2017 (a decrease of 29.79 percent); 81,413 in 2018 (a decrease of 32.09 percent); and 27,598 from January to May this year.
However, the data covers January to June 2016 when Aquino was still President.
Crime cleaning efficiency ‘rise’
Banac said, while fewer crimes were committed, what he called crime cleansing and efficiency of the solution "increased."
"More crimes are resolved very quickly," Banac said.
The police have a definition of actions taken in criminal cases. Removed means that a case has been filed against a suspect who is still at large. Solved is if the suspect or suspect has been placed behind bars and charged.
PNP data shows that of total crime in 2016, at least 407,480 were defined as cleared or a success rate of 69.67 percent. In the same year, PNP said at least 333,558 cases had been completed or a success rate of 57.03 percent. In 2018 the number 417,569 was cleared and 364,950 completed.
In 2019 at present, PNP says at least 165,453 crimes have been cleared for a success rate of more than 86 percent and at least 151,988 crimes have been completed for a success rate of almost 80 percent.
Banac attributed this to faster identification of suspects. "We can identify the suspect immediately and the value goes up," he said. "More suspects are easily identified by investigators with community assistance," he said.
Whether these numbers are reflected by what happened on the streets, Banac pointed to the Social Weather Station (SWS) survey in February 2019 which said the majority of Filipinos now see fewer drug addicts in their neighborhood.
READ: SWS: The majority of Filipinos see fewer drug users in their area
He also cited another SWS survey released in January 2019 which showed that 37 percent of Filipino adults believed that their lives had improved.
READ: SWS: More and more Filipinos believe that quality of life is increasing
"When you say quality of life, that includes safety and security," Banac said. "This is an indicator that we are on the right track. We get a positive foundation. "
Narcotics is the same as other crimes
Banac said police eradication efforts anchored to reduce the number of drug addicts in the country because he believed drug addiction and other crimes were directly "connected."
Fight drugs and you also fight other crimes, he said. It is automatic, he added.
With this guiding principle, Banac said that PNP has changed its strategy to target drug syndicates that supply narcotics that bring addiction even to the poorest areas in the Philippines. By doing so, Banac said, the police also reduced other crimes.
"But there will always be evil, of course, with different motives," Banac said. "Most of these motives are personal and some are economic as they are in theft and robbery," he added.
Deviations, Human Rights, & # 39; violations & # 39;
However, the impressive figures will not protect the police from allegations of irregularities in their anti-crime operations, such as human rights violations.
Just last July 11, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted an Iceland-led resolution calling for an investigation into the findings of the reports of uncontrolled killings and human rights violations in the Philippines arising from Duterte's bloody campaign against drugs.
One of the triggers that included ammunition into the weapons of human rights defenders, including members of the UNHRC, was the murder of a three-year-old girl during an anti-drug police operation in the city of Rodriguez, Rizal province on June 29. , or about two weeks before UNHRC pays attention. An undercover policeman was killed in the same operation and a forensic investigation pointed to his weapon as a source of bullets that found a sign on the boy.
As a result of the murder of the boy, who was allegedly used as a human shield by his father, a driver who was also killed, PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde called for a review of the rules of police involvement. Questions such as why the police shot even after seeing the girl in front of her father's companion echoed.
READ: PNP sees the need to review police procedures after a child's death during a shootout
Banac said allegations of human rights violations were carried out with the territory as a police officer.
"We cannot help but are accused of violating human rights," he said. "Being in law enforcement, where we are authorized to carry weapons and use force, there are situations where our police really have to defend themselves," Banac said. "When? When the suspects fight and fight with violence."
There is no tolerance in PNP for irregularities in anti-crime operations, such as violating human rights, Banac added.
Respect for human rights is part of police policy, he said. "We investigated them, sued them and sued them too," Banac said, discussing police protocols in dealing with suspects taken alive.
Marc Siapno, the officer who served in the Strategic Communication Division of the Human Rights Commission, said the overly general police report on suspects killed because they were fired must first be tested in court.
"It is clear to us that you must find a balance between law enforcement and protecting human rights," Siapno said. But the only way to bring that balance, he said, is "better transparency in police operations."
Transparency, however, appears to have been hit by bullets in the shootout, too, from those who demand greater accountability and Duterte officials who reject allegations of short killings or extrajudicial killings as excessive claims by groups or individuals seeking Duterte's downfall. The PNP said it had submitted police operations records, especially those that led to the murder of the suspect, to the Public Attorney's Office, which had not fully heeded the Supreme Court's order to submit the documents.
Banac said another hurdle was awaiting police in their long-distance journey to fight crime. This includes the lack of modern equipment to counter what Banac said is criminals becoming more "sophisticated."
"We need more equipment, more air assets and sea assets too," Banac said.
In addition to the lack of equipment, he said PNP was also short of labor with the number of police and officers "still far below the country's current population of around 107 million." "We only 187,901. If we take the ratio, that's a very small percentage, "Banac said.
"It remains a challenge for us," he said.
Constraints or not, however, Banac said the PNP continued to "aim high" in its anti-crime efforts.
"We aim high," he said. "We want a Philippines that is drug free in 2022," Banac said, referring to the last year in Duterte's office. "We want to bring crime to the level where our people can say that they feel safe and secure when they leave."
Also, Banac said, PNP aims high because it wants people to "really say that they agree to the government's campaign" against crime. With a President who enjoys a trust rating of at least 80 percent in the middle of his tenure, Banac's dream may not be so impossible
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to gain access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & 70+ other titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download at the earliest at 4 am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.