PHILIPPINE National Police chief, General Camilo Pancratius P. Cascolan yesterday said they are not letting their guards down and are continuing to implement all necessary security measures nationwide even though crime volume has gone down by more than half since the start of the pandemic.
In particular, incidents of theft and robbery in the country went down by 60 percent since March 17 to date or during the first 200 days of the community quarantine, Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander, Lieutenant General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar explained.
However, Cascolan has reminded all police commanders nationwide not to be complacent and to continue partnering with local government units and the community in addressing peace and order concerns during the new normal.
The top cop said that even during the pandemic, the PNP relentlessly pursued its war on drugs with the conduct of 4,356 operations since last September 2 leading to the arrest of 5,756 drug personalities, the surrender of 113 and the killing of 57 armed suspects following gunbattles with undercover officers.
The PNP also confiscated around 2.1 kilograms of shabu and nearly 22 kilos of dried marijuana leaves worth at least P174 million.
Cascolan said their anti-carnapping operations since last month likewise led to the arrest of 51 members of notorious car theft gangs and the recovery of 42 stolen motor vehicles and motorcycles.
“We have also accounted two members of private armed groups with firearms during the month of September. Our intensified intelligence-based operations against criminal gangs resulted to 185 criminal gang members that are either arrested, killed or surrendered, and also accounted for 15 gun-for-hire suspects,” he added.
Cascolan also said that in compliance with President Rodrigo’s Duterte’s directive, they have conducted 1,944 anti-illegal gambling operations which resulted to the arrest of 6,057 offenders and confiscation of gambling articles and cash amounting to P3.2 million.
“Our efforts in improving crime solution through more effective scientific investigation, improved collaboration and coordination with the other pillars of the criminal justice system, and maximizing utilization of ‘new generation investigation system (NGIS)’ resulted to the reduction of index and non-index crime volumes by 3.7 percent and 5.3 percent respectively, and the increase in index and non-index crime solution efficiencies by 1.2 percent and 2.57 percent respectively,” he said.
The past month also saw the police accounting for dozens of most wanted persons as well as 5,346 others who are wanted for various criminal offenses and the seizure of 1,580 various unlicensed firearms from 665 arrested lawbreakers. “We expect that this will further reduce violent criminal incidents,” he said.
According to Eleazar, the big decline in the number of the two focus crimes against persons were recorded since they implemented stricter measures to help the government further prevent the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus, including the strict enforcement of health protocols by policemen manning Quarantine Control Points nationwide.
The official said official PNP records reveal a 46 percent decline in the Eight Focus Crimes namely murder, homicide, physical injury, rape, theft, robbery and theft of motor vehicles and motorcycles.
Eleazar explained that the data in the past 200 days continue to defy expectations and perceptions of a sudden increase on crime, particularly robbery and theft, as the coronavirus pandemic triggered loss of livelihood and other economic difficulties.
“While the community quarantine denied criminal elements the usual opportunity to strike, the increased police visibility down to the barangay level is a big factor in reducing criminal incidents across the country,” he said.
Based on the JTF COVID data through the PNP, there were a total of 18,683 crimes recorded under the Eight Focus Crimes from March 17 to October 2 this year, compared to 34,768 criminal incidents from August 30, 2019 to March 16, 2020.
“Translated to a daily crime average, the Philippines has recorded an average of 93 criminal incidents per day during the 200-day implementation of the community quarantine compared to 174 per day incidents of the 200-day period before the community quarantine implementation,” Eleazar said.
The biggest decline was recorded in cases of motorcycle theft which registered a 64 percent decline, or from 2,210 cases to only 786 during the quarantine period.
Cases of robbery are down by 61 percent or from 5,627 cases to only 2,073. Theft and carnapping of motor vehicles both recorded a 60 percent decline—from 11,653 cases to 4,690 cases for theft, and from 240 cases for motor vehicle theft down to only 97.
For cases of physical injury, there was a decline of 38 percent, or from 5,958 to 3,692. Rape cases, on the other hand, recorded a 23 percent decline, or from 5,080 to 3,911.
Murder cases on the other hand went down by 20 percent or from 3,463 to 2,761 while homicide cases declined by 25 percent or from 897 to 673 cases.
Eleazar said that Gen. Cascolan has ordered all police commanders to continuously beef up the police presence in every community in partnership with the barangay officials not only to maintain peace and order but also as part of the measures against the COVID-19.
Lt. Gen. Eleazar urged all police commanders to continue their coordination with the Local Government Units since local officials and the community play a key role in anti-crime efforts of the PNP.