CENTRAL, Western and Eastern Visayas have noted a decrease in crime rates during the implementation of community quarantine in the three regions amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Top police officials revealed that the Covid-19 lockdowns had helped bring down the crime incidence in Visayas.
In Central Visayas, crime rate went down by at least 58 percent, according to Police Brigadier General Albert Ignatius Ferro, regional director of the Police Regional Office-Central Luzon.
“Compared to last year, we have a better crime situation now compared to pre-Covid, probably because of our continuous implementation of quarantine measures, 24/7 checkpoints and aggressive efforts of our police personnel,” Ferro said during the Mugstoria Ta, a virtual conversation hosted by Assistant Secretary Jonji Gonzales of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas.
Despite the health risks, the police have remained steadfast in their role to fight against criminality.
“Hopefully it could be sustained. The secret is strong collaboration with the community. The police will continue enforcing the law even with Covid-19,” Ferro said.
The official said PRO-Central Visayas has continued its regular anti-criminality operations in 2020 amid the crisis.
He revealed that PRO-Central Visayas had recorded a total of 108.5 kilograms of seized shabu, 1.1 tons of marijuana and thousands of illegal firearms recovered and arrested a total of 5,864 wanted criminals and 21 drug peddlers.
“The PNP (Philippine National Police) did not lower their guards (despite the pandemic). We’re able to maintain peace and tranquility of the region,” he added. “A lot of our provincial police stations have contributed to the endeavor of sustaining the gains of the President’s campaign against illegal drugs.”
Western Visayas has also observed the same downtrend in crime rate. PRO-Western Visayas Deputy Regional Director for Operation Colonel Ross C. Alvarado said crime incidence in the region plunged 28 percent from 21,890 to 15,599 in the first 10 months of 2020.
PRO-Western Visayas had conducted a total of 1,234 operations, leading to the arrest of 1,698 individuals and the death of seven drug personalities.
The regional police's internal security operation had also resulted in the surrender of a total of 48 communist members, arrest of 47 personalities, confiscation of 41 illegal firearms and neutralization of four communist members.
Police Brigadier General Ronaldo De Jesus, director of PRO in Eastern Visayas, also echoed the observation of Ferro and Alvarado, saying the declining crime rate is one of the positive impacts of the Covid crisis.
In Eastern Visayas, crime against persons declined by 31 percent, while crime against properties went down by 60 percent.
Traffic incidents in the region also declined by 40 percent, De Jesus said.
PRO-Central Visayas’s Ferro also emphasized that ending armed conflict in local communities has remained a priority goal of the current administration.
This is especially vital for Central Visayas since maintaining peace and order is key to sustaining its appeal as a premier tourist destination. In Western Visayas, PRO had created the Regional Joint Focus Legal Action Team, deemed as a first in the country.
The team includes the first cluster and the legal cooperation cluster, which support the operations of PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to attain the administration’s goal to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.
With the creation of the team, PRO-Western Visayas vows to further strengthen the region’s efforts in its fight against lawlessness and terrorism.
This joint action group undertakes a more aggressive and focused operation against the communist-terrorist groups as part of the whole-nation-approach to end the threat and terrorist activities.
The top regional police officers also expressed confidence that ending local armed conflict will be resolved before the Duterte administration ends in 2022.
De Jesus noted that cooperation between the police and relevant government agencies is needed to deliver the needs of these leftist groups.
“That’s our aim (to end this problem before 2022). We are making progress. Hopefully, with the cooperation of the local communities, we can address this problem,” he said. (PR)