ALL police forces nationwide were ordered to further increase their visibility and strategically deploy their men in business districts and other areas of mass convergence to arrest the presence of criminals specifically motorcycle-riding suspects amid the further easing of quarantine restrictions, Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander, Lieutenant General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar said yesterday.
In coordination with Philippine National Police chief, Gen. Camilo Pancratius P. Cascolan, the Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander said the move is in anticipation of the impact of the lifting of some quarantine protocols as the government policy-makers emphasized the need to reopen the economy to rebound from the adverse effects of the Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) in the past months.
Hotels for instance were already allowed to operate 100 percent while churches and other places of worship in cities and other highly-urbanized areas were already given a go-signal to accommodate a maximum of 30 percent capacity.
“The enforcement of community quarantine rules is challenging as more people are allowed to go out. But we assure the local government units and the public that the JTF COVID Shield will be at the frontline in maintaining the balance between the need to reopen the economy and our mandate to protect the people from coronavirus infection through strict, proper and strategic enforcement of the health safety protocols,” said Eleazar.
The official explained that the regular presence of policemen and mobile patrol cars in the business district and other public places will already compel the people to make it a habit that they follow the minimum health safety standard protocols, knowing that the policemen would be on constant watch and ready to remind and accost them in case of any violation.
Amid the lack of manpower to guard every street and corner of city and town proper, Eleazar reminded police commanders to reach out to their LGUs for help from their different ‘force multipliers’ including barangay ‘tanods’ and the different City and Municipal Public Order and Safety
Eleazar said incidents of killings and robbery-holdup involving motorcycle-riding suspects (MRS) have gone down by 57 percent over the past seven months of intensified security and health safety measures being implemented by the PNP.
The big reduction in the number of cases involving the so-called riding-in-tandem criminals comes in the wake of Gen. Cascolan’s order for the PNP Highway Patrol Group to train as many policemen on motorcycle-riding as part of their anti-criminality measures as instructed by President Duterte.
Eleazar said there were a total of 784 cases of MRS-related criminal activities recorded during the past 220 days of the community quarantine period compared to the 1,864 cases recorded during the same period before the implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine and its other levels or a 57 percent reduction.
“In the past, motorcycle-riding criminals were a big peace and order headache. But we were able to counter their illegal activities in the past four years especially in the past seven months before the March 17 implementation of the first community quarantine wherein the daily average of MRS-related criminal activities was only eight nationwide,” said the Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander.
“Comes the community quarantine, the already-reduced MRS-related criminal activities further declined to a national daily average of four. So there was really a significant improvement not only on illegal activities of motorcycle-riding suspects but also the peace and order situation nationwide,” he added.
Based on PNP data, there was a 46 percent reduction in the Eight Focus Crimes during the 220-day community quarantine period (March 17, 2020 to October 22, 2020) compared to the same period before the community quarantine (August 10, 2019 to March 16, 2020).
The Eight Focus Crimes— murder, homicide, physical injury, rape, robbery, theft, carnapping of motorcycles and carnapping of motor vehicles —serve as the barometer of the peace and order situation in any area, and for the entire country as a whole.
Mindanao recorded the biggest decline in MRS-related criminal activities in the past 220 days with 63 percent or from 515 to 193 cases, followed by the Visayas region with 60 percent or from 485 to 189 cases, and Luzon with 53 percent or from 864 to 402 cases.
In Metro Manila, there was a 45 percent reduction of MRS-related criminal activities, or from 291 to 160 cases, Eleazar said.
For cases of murder and homicide involving motorcycle-riding suspects, the official said there were a 41 percent (from 505 to 300 cases) and 48 percent (from 25 to 13 cases) reduction, respectively. For robbery and theft cases, a decline was recorded at 76 percent (from 584 to 143 cases) and 74 percent (from 227 to 58 cases), respectively, he explained.
No upsurge in MRS cases
Eleazar, also the PNP Deputy Chief for Administration, said the PNP data contradicts perception that there was an increase in MRS-related criminal activities.
“Napakalaki ng pagbaba sa krimen sa nakalipas na mahigit na pitong buwan kaya siguro nanibago ang ating mga kababayan matapos ang mga report tungkol sa motorcycle-riding criminals. However, we are not putting our guard down and we will continue to implement strategies to run after them and deny them the opportunity to strike,” he said.
Eleazar said the continuing security measures that were ordered by Gen. Cascolan especially on increased police visibility at the community level also led to the continuous reduction on carnapping of motorcycles which has a 62% reduction in the past 220 days.
Based on the PNP data, stolen motorcycles are usually being used in criminal activities.