Insecurity in neighborhoods rises
Given the tremendous importance that the Duterte administration has placed on its war against illegal drugs, it is not surprising that, in the eyes of the general public, there has been a decline in drug usage (“Fourth Quarter Social Weather Survey: 66% of Filipinos say the number of illegal drug users in their area has decreased,” www.sws.org.ph, 2/16/19).
However, the administration’s success in reducing drug usage should be qualified by the universal public disapproval of the lethal means used to enforce the President’s will. The December 2018 survey also found 95 percent calling it important that the police capture the drug suspects alive. The pro-life demand for the conduct of the war against illegal drugs has been intense since September 2017.
Furthermore, the success in reducing drug usage has come at the cost of a rise in common-crime victimization and in the insecurity of homes and neighborhood streets (“Fourth Quarter 2018 Social Weather Survey: Families victimized by common crimes rise to 7.6%,” 2/22/19).
Crime victimization. The percentage of families victimized in the past six months by any of four common crimes (robbery on the street, home break-in, physical violence, or theft of a motorized vehicle) was 7.6 when surveyed in December last year, compared to 6.1 percent in September, 5.3 in June, and 6.6 in March. As a result, the average rate of common-crime victimization for the full year rose to 6.4 percent in 2018, from 6.1 percent in 2017.
Note that this is victimization as recorded by the SWS interviewers, not as found in the police blotters. Most of these crimes are not even reported to the police.
For street robbery in particular (the most common of the common crimes), in Metro Manila, the most unsafe area, the average percentage of families victimized rose to 9.4 in the full year 2018, from 8.5 in the full year 2017. In Mindanao, the percentage rose to 5.5 from 3.1; in Balance Luzon, it rose to 3.9 from 3.3; while in Visayas, it was steady at 1.8.
Fear of crime. I recently wrote that, whereas the long-term trend of common-crime victimization is downward, the fear of crime has been steadily high (“Fear of crime stays high,” Opinion, 12/8/18). This is based on SWS’ quarterly tracking of three factors: (a) fear of burglary of the home, (b) fear of walking the neighborhood streets at night, and (c) visibility of drug addicts in the neighborhood.
In December 2018, a majority 61 percent of those surveyed said that most people in their neighborhood were fearful of burglary—a jump of 9 points from 52 percent the previous September. This is already the third time, in 10 quarters so far of the Duterte administration, that the fearful percentage has exceeded 60; it happened a total of only five times in the entire 24 quarters of the previous administration.
The percentage fearful of walking the streets at night jumped by 8 points to a majority 54 in December from 46 in September. This is its fifth time so far to exceed 50 during the current administration; it happened a total of four times in the previous administration.
However, the percentage noticing many drug addicts in the neighborhood fell to 39 in December from 41 in September. It has been in the 30s twice, in the 40s five times, and 50+ three times in the 10 quarters of the Duterte period so far. For comparison, it was in the 30s four times, in the 40s eleven times, and 50+ seven times in the previous administration (a total of 22 quarters; two were inadvertently skipped).
In sum, the success of the war against illegal drugs comes at a heavy, publicly condemned cost of human lives, and without lessening the people’s anxieties about the safety of their homes and neighborhoods.
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