Public Eye
JAN - MARCH 2003
VOL. IX   NO. 1

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Counting Crimes

Crime statistics reported by the polcie are incomplete and do not always paint the real picture.


THE NUMBER of crimes recorded last year is nowhere near the high levels recorded during the last half of the Aquino administration, but don't be fooled into feeling any safer. Even the statistics released by the Philippine National Police show that the total crime volume in 2002 escalated to 85, 776, or an 11 percent rise from the previous year.

All types of index crimes increased last year, save for rape, which dropped by a minimal one percent. The police statistics, however, show that the sharp rise in crime figures came mainly from a 25-percent growth in robbery and theft cases. Index crimes include murder, homicide, physical injuries, rape, robbery, and theft.

Region-wise, Central Visayas, Northern Mindanao, the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, the Cordillera Autonomous Region, and Metro Manila saw a steep rise in the number of index crimes. In the ARMM, which consists of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, homicide cases soared by 121 percent, rape 108 percent, and robbery 177 percent. Ironically, ARMM supposedly had enough policemen, being one of only two regions that met the 1:500 police-to-population standard set by the PNP. ARMM had one policeman for every 419 population. In contrast, the national ratio was 1:734, with six regions having one cop for more than 1,000 people.

The bright spot in an otherwise gloomy picture of the country's peace-and-order situation in 2002 was the government's drive against car thefts and kidnapping, which are classified as non-index crimes along with smuggling, illegal possession of firearms and explosives, and crimes against chastity. According to the PNP, car thefts fell by five percent and kidnap-for-ransom cases by a whopping 32 percent.

A quick guide to PNP's crime statistics

Total Crime Volume = Index + Non-index Crimes
Average Monthly Crime Rate = [(Total Crime Volume/12 months) x 100,000 population]/population of region or country
Crime Solution Efficiency = (Crime Solved/Crime Volume) x 100%
Index crimes: Murder, homicide, physical injury and rape (crimes against persons) and robbery and theft (crimes against property)
Non-index crimes: Crimes against persons (parricide/infanticide, maltreatment, kidnapping); crimes against property (estafa and falsification, malicious mischief and damage to property); crimes against morals and order (prostitution, vagrancy, alarm and scandal, assault/resistance to authority, corruption of public official, gambling, slander and libel, threat and coercion and trespassing), crimes against chastity (abduction, seduction, lascivious acts) and other crimes (illegal possession of firearms, explosives and ammunition, concealment of deadly weapons, smuggling, carnapping and prohibited drugs)

Selected Crime Statistics, 1990-2002

Year
Total Crime Volume
Increase
Average Monthly Crime Rate
Increase
Crime Solution Efficiency
Increase
1990
137,678
-
19.14
-
No data
-
1991
119,300
-13%
16.26
-15%
No data
-
1992
102,670
-14%
13.70
-16%
No data
-
1993
94,401
-8%
12.35
-10%
No data
-
1994
93,317
-1%
11.63
-6%
76.93%
-
1995
79,248
-15%
9.62
-17%
87.10%
13%
1996
76,916
-3%
9.08
-6%
89.34%
3%
1997
71,080
-8%
8.11
-11%
90.69%
2%
1998
71,576
1%
8.17
1%
91.27%
1%
1999
82,538
15%
9.42
15%
91.36%
0%
2000
80,108
-3%
9.14
-3%
92.34%
1%
2001
76,991
-4%
8.23
-10%
90.89%
-2%
2002
85,776
11%
8.97
9%
89.24%
-2%

Total Crime Volume, By Region, 2001-2002

Region
2001
2002
Increase
1
3,297
3,144
-5%
2
2,609
2,575
-1%
3
7,476
8,009
7%
4a
13,003
12,189
-6%
4b
No data
491
-
5
3,770
3,733
-1%
6
4,017
4,071
1%
7
9,888
13,028
32%
8
2,833
3,010
6%
9
3,625
3,228
-11%
10
3,032
4,187
38%
11
2,652
2,455
-7%
12
2,919
2,844
-3%
13
1,104
1,169
6%
ARMM
536
686
28%
CAR
1,432
1,737
21%
NCR
14,806
19,220
30%
Total
76,997
85,776
11%

Source: Philippine National Police

But again, the public shouldn't be too quick in drawing comfort from these figures. For one, there were still 2,055 recorded car thefts last year not exactly a reassuring figure. In Metro Manila, six cars were stolen every day in 2002.

For another, the police's crime statistics are limited to the incidents reported to the precincts. In a country where confidence in authorities is rather low, reporting crimes to the police isn't exactly done on reflex.

Not surprisingly, the Social Weather Stations' surveys of victims of common crimes-burglarization of the home, pickpocketing or robbery outside the home, car thefts and injury from physical violence- from 1989 to 2001, yielded a volume of victimizations much larger than the volume of crimes reported to the police.

Reports prepared by the Citizens Actions against Crime and the Movement for the Restoration of Peace and Order, two anti-crime groups that have closely monitored kidnappings since 1992, also highlight the incompleteness of PNP statistics.

The PNP, for example, recorded 65 kidnap-for-ransom incidents involving 87 victims in 2002, down from the 99 cases it listed in 2001.

The CAAC-MRPO, however, came across at least 10 unreported cases, nine of them involving Chinese Filipinos or Tsinoys, including the sister-in-law of a business tycoon whose family members had been past kidnap victims.

Another glaring discrepancy between the reports of the PNP and CAAC-MRPO involves the ransom supposed paid by kidnap victims. The police said kidnap-for-ransom groups collected P57.6 million in 2002, slightly under half of the P103.7 million payoffs monitored by the anti-crime groups. Interestingly, PNP's own records show the dismal recovery of the ransoms paid. Last year, less than P1 million in ransom money was retrieved. Yvonne T. Chua



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