FEWER crimes were committed in Central Visayas Region last July, the first month of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term, compared with the numbers in July last year, police said.

Chief Superintendent Noli Taliño, director of the Police Regional Office (PRO)-Central Visayas, attributed the decrease to the intensified campaign against all forms of crime, not just illegal drugs.

But he added: “Illegal drugs is the mother of all crimes.”

Total crimes, as well as the number of homicide and murder cases, also dropped in Central Visayas from January to July 2016, compared with the records in the same period in 2015, despite the deaths of 145 alleged drug peddlers since the start of the Duterte administration.

From July 1 until 6 a.m. of Aug. 22, the anti-illegal drug operations of PRO 7 has led to the deaths of 69 suspected drug pushers.

But unidentified assailants killed more, with 76 alleged drug peddlers gunned down as of Monday. The police have not yet arrested a single perpetrator.

Taliño said these killings are still being investigated.

As far as index crimes were concerned, the PRO-Central Visayas reported that index crimes like murder, homicide, theft, robbery, physical injuries, and rape have decreased to 1,220 cases, or a decrease of 27.7 percent from 1,688 cases in July 2015.

Mostly down

In the first seven months of the year, all index crimes (crimes against persons and properties) dropped except for one: carnapping. The number of carnapping cases went up to 540 during those months in 2016, from 508 in the same period last year, or an increase of about six percent.

The number of murders dropped by 22 percent, from 341 deaths in January to July 2015, to 266 in the same months this year. Homicides also dropped during the period, from 85 to 59 deaths, or a decrease of about 31 percent.

Non-index crimes increased to 3,044 incidents in July 2016 compared to July last year’s 3,023, for an increase of less than one percent. Non-index crimes are violations of special laws, such as those against illegal drugs, gambling, and loose firearms.

But the total crime volume for July this year fell to 4,264 incidents, a 9.5 percent decrease from 4,711 cases in July 2015.

Taliño said increase was caused by their tougher drive against illegal drug groups and crime groups.

From January to July this year, the total crime volume stood at 29,302 incidents, a drop of 6.9 percent from the same period last year, when 31,482 crimes were recorded.

More shootings

After winning on an anti-crime platform in the May elections, President Duterte has promised to protect police and soldiers if they get sued for killing illegal drug peddlers who resist legitimate police operations.

At 2 a.m. Monday, suspected drug pusher Miro Pulgo, 23, died after he was shot by an unidentified gunman in Barangay Candabong, Alcantara.

Pulgo, who succumbed to three gunshot wounds in the head, had reportedly surrendered to the police last month in response to Oplan Tokhang and promised to stop selling illegal drugs.

Pulgo was sleeping inside his family’s hut when he was shot. Afterwards, the gunman rode a motorcycle another man was driving.

Two empty shells from a .45 pistol were found in the crime scene.

Maya shooting

Four hours later, another alleged drug pusher, Ramil Bentulan, was killed by the police after he allegedly attempted to shoot them during a buy-bust in Barangay Maya, Daanbantayan.

The suspect, who was in his 30s, was hit in the head and in the back. He did not make it alive to the hospital.

Bentulan allegedly drew out his .38 revolver and attempted to shoot at the operatives, but it malfunctioned. The police retaliated and hit him.

The gun, still loaded with three bullets, was recovered along with two packs of shabu worth more than P6,000.

As to the Oplan Tokhang of PRO-Central Visayas since last month, Taliño said that 71,123 alleged junkies and pushers have surrendered in Bohol, Cebu Province, Siquijor, Cebu City, Mandaue City, and Lapu-Lapu City.

Of the group, 5,105 are alleged drug pushers and 66,008 identified themselves as illegal drug users.

Taliño added that the police are formulating their guidelines for Oplan Tokhang in subdivisions, condominiums and bars where party drugs are possibly on sale.

Shot near jail

A suspected drug pusher was shot dead just a few meters away from the municipal jail in Barangay Tulay, Minglanilla last Sunday afternoon.

Police investigators said that Arnulfo “Anol” Engbino may have been a victim of a vigilante-style killing.

Engbino, 43, arrived in the Minglanilla Municipal Jail to visit his live-in partner Macedonia “Lovely” Avila around 1 p.m. last Sunday.

Around 4:20 p.m., Engbino went out to buy softdrinks in a nearby store, but two men on a motorcycle suddenly approached him. The back rider shot Engbino once in his head, and the bullet exited near his left ear.

The assailants also fired in the air twice, apparently to scare passersby away. The two remained unidentified on Monday.

Engbino was rushed to the Minglanilla District Hospital but was declared dead on arrival at 5:05 p.m.

A police team led by PO2 Arnel Resente found two empty shells fired from a .45 pistol and P500 in the crime scene. (With Jyda Yeecynth Ang, USJ-R Intern)