The Philippine National Police (PNP) must end its practice of describing a crime, particularly murder, as solved even if the gunman is the only culprit arrested and charged before the prosecutor’s office.

As long as the mastermind is still out in the woods, police must not consider the case solved.

Such is the case of slain Manila-based radio broadcast journalist Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa. Southern Police District (SPD) Director Kirby John Kraft has said that he considered the case solved after the arrest of self-confessed gunman Joel Escorial and the subsequent filing of charges against him and his cohorts. Mabasa’s murder happened under the jurisdiction of SPD, a unit of the National Capital Region Police Office.

PNP Chief Rodolfo Azurin Jr., however, issued a different statement, saying the case is far from being solved because the person behind Mabasa’s murder has not yet been identified and charged.

It was understandable for Kraft to issue such a statement as the PNP has already set a definition for the term, “solved case.”

For a case to be considered solved, the culprit must have been arrested and a complaint must have been filed against him.

Even if only one of the multiple offenders has been arrested and has been charged, the case is also considered solved by the PNP.

Police also consider a case cleared when at least one of the culprits has been identified, there is sufficient evidence to charge the suspect, and he has been charged before the prosecutor’s office or any other court of appropriate jurisdiction.

Based on the police lingo, Mabasa’s murder can already be considered cleared and solved.

However, the Mabasa murder has twists and turns that to describe it as solved is adding salt to the victim’s family’s wounds.

Escorial identified two “middlemen” or the people who acted as intermediaries between him and the mastermind. One of the intermediaries died in the New Bilibid Prison, and the inmate’s death has been described by a forensic expert as doubtful. The Department of Justice has launched an investigation on the Bilibid inmate’s death.

Getting the guilty verdict for all persons involved in the crime is the ultimate solution.

The PNP must only consider a crime solved when all the culprits are behind bars.

A case is solved when justice is already attained. That should be the PNP’s new benchmark.