Social Climate

The long-term lack of public safety

For many years, the Social Weather Surveys have monitored the people’s anxieties about burglary of their homes, danger in walking the streets at night, and the presence of drug addicts in the neighborhood.

54 percent fear burglary. The last Social Weather Stations survey, done in March 2018, found the percentage of Filipino adults agreeing that “In this neighborhood, people are usually afraid that robbers might break into their homes,” at 54 percent nationwide. (See “First Quarter 2018 Social Weather Survey: Families victimized by any of the common crimes at 6.6%,” www.sws.org.ph, 6/21/18.)


That is exactly the same as the 54  percent found in June 1985, in response to the same questionnaire item, addressed to respondents of the Bishops-Businessmen’s Conference (BBC) survey of that time.

SWS, which was founded in August 1985, spun this item off from the BBC survey, and then found the fear of burglary at 52 percent in its very first survey of May 1986.  Since then, it has continued tracking this fear in every Social Weather Survey up to the present—twice a year in 1986-91, and quarterly since 1992.


In the last three decades, the fear of burglary peaked at 70 percent (in October 1987), and was never below 40 percent (in March 2001). It averaged 57 percent in the four quarters of 2017. Clearly, there has been no improvement in the last 33 years.

The present anxiety about burglary is all across the nation: 52 percent in both Visayas and the Balance of Luzon, 54 percent or just average in Mindanao, and 60 percent in the National Capital Region (NCR).

46 percent fear the streets at night. In March 2018, the national proportion of adults agreeing that “In this neighborhood, people are usually afraid to walk in the streets at night because it is not safe,” was 46 percent. This is only slightly below the 48 percent that the BBC survey found in June 1985.

Over three decades, the percentage fearful of the streets at night has been usually in the 40s. Its lowest point was 35 percent (in December 1991), and its peak was 54 percent (in December 2016, only five quarters ago). It averaged 50 percent in the four quarters of 2017, just last year. Clearly, there has been no long-term improvement.

By area, the sense of danger in the streets at night is usually greatest in NCR, presently at 52 percent. Next are Visayas at 49 percent, Mindanao at 48 percent, and Balance of Luzon at 42 percent.

40 percent see very many drug addicts around. In March 2018, the national proportion of adults agreeing that “In this neighborhood, there are already very many people addicted to banned drugs,” was 40 percent.

This is above the 37 percent found in March 2005, when SWS began its quarterly monitoring of the public perception of drug addicts in the neighborhood. From that time to now, the perception’s lowest point was 34 percent (in September 2009), and its peak was 62 percent (in June 2016).


The recent 40 percent is below the average 45 percent in the four quarters of 2017, and the average 52 percent in the last two quarters of 2016. There have been gains in the first seven quarters of the Duterte administration, but they are not enough to show a favorable trend in the longer run of 13 years.

The percentage that perceives much drug addiction in the neighborhood is 51 in Metro Manila, or much higher than in Visayas (41), Balance Luzon (39), and Mindanao (33).  Metro Manila is consistently the area with the greatest anxiety about public safety.

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TAGS: addicts, crime, drugs, streets, SWS
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