Top Story

By Ian Nicolas P. Cigaral

Experience, perception of crime steady

Posted on April 24, 2017

SLIGHTLY more Filipinos said they were victims of property crimes in the past six months despite President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s promise of tougher law enforcement, according to a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey that also bared a steady perception of presence of drug addicts and cases of physical violence.

Police Director-General Ronald M. dela Rosa whispers to President Rodrigo R. Duterte, Jan. 30. -- AFP
The First-Quarter 2017 Social Weather Survey -- conducted March 25-28 via face-to-face interviews with 1,500 adults nationwide and sampling error margins of 3 points for national percentages, 4 points for “Balance Luzon” as well as 6 points each for Metro Manila, the Visayas and Mindanao -- fielded questions about experience of common crimes and feelings of insecurity in the neighborhood.

The survey saw respondents saying they lost property to street robbery, burglars (break-ins), or carnappers in the past six months edge up to 6.3%, or an estimated 1.4 million families, 1.8 points above the record-low 4.5% (estimated 1 million) in December 2016.

The survey also saw those saying family members suffered from physical violence in the past six months at 0.7% (estimated 155,000 families), flat from December (166,000 families) and September (162,000 families) last year.

All these readings led to a quarterly 6.8% or 1.6 million families saying they were victims of common crimes -- steady from the 6.8% (1.5 million families) recorded in September 2016.

“Victimization by common crimes reported in SWS surveys is much higher than the number of crimes actually reported to the police,” SWS said in a statement summarizing survey findings.

The survey also found 5.3% (1.2 million families) of respondents saying they fell prey to street robbers in the past six months, two points more than December’s 3.3% (754,000).

Some 1.9% (435,000) said their homes were broken into, barely changed from December’s 1.8% (400,000).

The same poll saw 1.0% (83,000 families) saying they were robbed of a motor vehicle, edging up 0.5 of a point from 0.5% (42,000 families) in December and the highest since March 2014, when it was a similar 1.0%, SWS said.

Experience of street robberies rose across geographical areas, with Metro Manila logging the highest reading.

Families robbed of personal property outside their homes increased by 5.3 points in Metro Manila to 12.0% from 6.7% in December. “This is the highest since 13.7% in April 2016,” SWS noted.

Other areas logged smaller increases, with response in the Visayas going up 1.7 points to 4.7%, in Balance Luzon it was up 1.6 points to 4.3%, while Mindanao saw a relatively flat 0.7-of-a-point increment to 3.7%.

Respondents whose families experienced break-ins increased in Metro Manila and Mindanao, by 1.7 points to 3.7% (the highest since the 4.7% in June 2016) and by 1.3 points to 2.3%, respectively.

In Balance Luzon, the reading edged down 0.5 of a point to 1.7%, the lowest since the record-low 0.7% in September and December 2005 for this area, while the Visayas saw a one-point dip to 0.7% in March.

Experience of carnappings rose most in Metro Manila, by 2.3 points to 3.4%, the highest since September 2014’s 3.5%.

Respondents in the Visayas said they had no such experience during the survey period.

Balance Luzon recorded 0.9% in March following three consecutive quarters of no incidence in 2016, SWS reported, while Mindanao respondents saying their cars were stolen edged up 0.1 of a point to 0.8%.

Respondents with family members who were hurt by physical violence rose by a point to 1.3% in Metro Manila, dipped by a point to 1.0% in the Visayas and was flat at 0.7% in Mindanao and 0.3% in Balance Luzon -- the lowest for that area since having no reported incidence in June 2014.

Results of the survey also showed that Filipinos’ fear of burglary and unsafe streets generally eased.

About 56% of respondents affirmed that “people are usually afraid that robbers might break into their houses” in their neighborhood, seven points down from 63% in the previous quarter.

Families fearing burglary fell by 13 points each to 48% in the Visayas and to 49% in Mindanao, dipped four points to 60% in Balance Luzon, but steadied at 65% in Metro Manila.

SWS also reported that 50% of the respondents agreed that “people are usually afraid to walk in the street at night because it is not safe” in their neighborhood, down four points from December 2016’s 54%.

Among geographical areas, fear of unsafe streets fell both in the Visayas and Mindanao by 11 points decline to 47% and by nine points to 42% -- the lowest since March 2012’s 38% -- respectively.

Those who said there are “many” drug addicts in their neighborhoods steadied at a “high” 52%.

The reading fell 14 points to 40% in the Visayas and by six points to 44% in Mindanao, but rose by eight points to 57% in Balance Luzon and by five points to 65% in Metro Manila.

Sought for comment, Police Director Oscar D. Albayalde, who heads the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) National Capital Region (NCR) Police Office, said that the rise in experience of burglary and car theft “can be attributed to the temporary suspension on the war on drugs of the PNP.”

“[T]hese types of crimes are mostly perpetrated by criminals engaged in illegal drugs also,” Mr. Albayalde said in a mobile phone message.

“The decrease in the presence of addicts cannot as yet be felt because the war on drugs is still in its early stage. Likewise, an addict will probably remain addict until he or she is actually rehabilitated or jailed. That is why they are called addicts. It’s hard for them to change unless there is actual and effective intervention.”

For his part, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto C. Abella likewise associated the increase experience of crime to the pause in the police’s anti-drug campaign.

“We look at this latest survey as a validation of earlier reports showing that addicts and pushers were back to business and that crimes were up after the Philippine National Police (PNP) suspended its anti-drug operations in January,” Mr. Abella said separately via text when sought for comment.

Last January, Mr. Duterte suspended the anti-drug campaign in response to the 2016 kidnapping-murder of Korean businessman Ick Joo Jee, as the circumstances of that crime were being reported that month.

Last month, the anti-narcotics war was reignited in what PNP Director-General Ronald M. dela Rosa vowed would be a less violent campaign.