AMID an assurance by Philippine National Police chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa that the 205,000-strong police force will continue its mandate to preserve peace and order in the country and fight any effort to sabotage the government action to prevent further spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus, the PNP has recorded a 53 percent reduction in major crimes nationwide from March 17 to last April 2, the Journal Group learned yesterday.
According to PNP Deputy Chief for Operations and Joint Task Force Corona Virus 19 Shield commander, Lieutenant Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar, the country’s crime rate was cut by more than half 18 days since the entire Luzon region and parts of Visayas and Mindanao were placed under Enhanced Community Quarantine to help prevent the spread of the deadly virus.
The official said the incidence of crimes against property declined by 53 percent nationwide during the period in review compared to the 18 days prior to the quarantine period.
In Luzon, official records from the PNP Directorate for Operations headed by Major Gen. Emmanuel Luis D. Licup showed the following 8 Focus Crimes statistics: from February 29 to March 16, 2020: 1,254; and from March 17 to April 2: 502; or a variance of -752 or a 59.97 percent reduction.
In Visayas, there were 604 major crimes recorded from February 29 to March 16 compared to the 326 registered from March 17 to April 2 or a variance of -278 or a 46.03 percent reduction.
In Mindanao, there were 461 major crimes recorded from March 17 to April 2 compared to the 269 registered from March 17 to April 2 or a variance of -192 or 41.65 percent reduction.
Overall, Eleazar said that there were a total of 2,319 major crimes recorded in the entire country from February 29 to March 16 compared to the 1,097 registered during the March 17 to April 2 period or a variance of -1,222 or a 52.70 percent reduction.
Major crimes include robbery, theft, carjacking and motorcycle and motor vehicle theft which are considered by the PNP as ‘barometer of peace and order,” said Eleazar.
The crime reduction across the country was registered as police enforced the Enhanced Community Quarantine and strictly enforced the curfew hours and accosted unauthorized persons who are in the streets and called on them to return to their respective homes.
The government also suspended school, public transport and work, except for health workers, law enforcers, public safety officials and those in the cargo, retail and delivery business, among others.
Gen. Gamboa said they are continuously monitoring threat groups and other personalities who may try to create trouble and undermine the government during the national crisis.
“The Philippine National Police under my command will remain steadfast and uncompromising in performing our duty as servants and protectors of the people most especially in this time of national health emergency,” he said as he defended President Duterte for ‘over-emphasizing’ the Enhanced Community Quarantine when he remarked that he will order the police and the military to shoot those who will create trouble and attack security forces amid the national health emergency.
“The thoughts of President Rodrigo R Duterte as expressed in his orders to the PNP are as clear as it can get-- that public order and rule of law must reign if we are to defeat this viral pandemic.
As a seasoned lawyer, President Duterte knows whereof he speaks. The order to shoot afterall, is consistent with what is prescribed in our Police Operational Procedures or rules of engagement that authorize use of reasonable force, including firearms, in defense of self and defense of a stranger when faced with imminent danger of unlawful aggression,” the lawyer-4-star general said.
However, Gen. Gamboa assured “that no shooting will happen if everyone will just obey the rules, particularly the guidelines of health authorities on quarantine, social distancing and crowding.”
“Let me reiterate our warning to agitators and organizers of illegal mass actions--disobedience to lawful orders of persons in authority will be dealt with squarely without compromise,” he said.
The PNP chief explained that impatience does not offer any reason to foment public disorder bordering on unrest and anarchy since the government has assured delivery of a P200-billion social amelioration package thru the Department of Social Welfare and Development, prioritized for the most needy and marginalized sectors affected by the lockdown.
Gen. Gamboa said that the distribution of individual cash assistance have already commenced and he has ordered Lt. Gen. Eleazar to muster enough PNP, Armed Forces, Coast Guard and Bureau of Fire personnel to assist the Department of Social Welfare and Development in this biggest ever humanitarian undertaking in Philippine history.
The JTF COVID Shield can be reached thru the following hotlines:09175382495-(Globe) 09988490013-(Smart); and 02-87253176-landline. Information can also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org