THE year 2023 was grim for Dabawenyos. The entire Davao Region faced long-standing concerns and issues among them violent crimes which further shaped the region’s culture of security.
In a year-end data provided by the Police Regional Office-Davao Region (PRO-Davao), the region records a total of 23,366 index crime incidents, much lower than the 28,668 incidents in 2022.
Index crimes are murder, homicide, physical injury, rape, robbery, theft, and carnapping.
Despite a 5,302 or 18.49% notable decrease, Davao City’s tourism brand campaign alone “Davao Life is Here” remains debatable, doubting its recognition as one of the safest cities in the world.
The city has the widest number of police stations with 20 offices yet violence persists in moderate to high cases.
“I have seen a lot of positive articles, noting Davao City as the best place in the Philippines. For that, I am uncertain because crimes in the area are still prevalent even today and it exists usually in most of the vulnerable society. The fear of a chaotic community is more likely to happen if security is the least priority of the government. We are long overdue recognizing the significance of technology-based securities,” Queeni Caay, 24, a virtual assistant, contradicted the famous tagline.
Meanwhile, in an interview, PRO-Davao spokesperson Police Major Catherine Dela Rey revealed that out of 10 big cases in the region recorded from January to December 28 of last year four have been cleared and are currently filed at the prosecutor's office. The remaining cases are still under investigation.
Most of these confidential major cases, according to Dela Rey, required the creation of a Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) for a swift probe into the incident.
SITG created vs case of uniformed personnel
Considered one of the top crime incidents in the country at the start of the first quarter of the previous year was the involvement of the Former Presidential Security Group (PSG) commander, Brig. Gen. Jesus P. Durante, who headed the 1001st Infantry Brigade, on the killing of entrepreneur and model Yvonnette Chua Plaza on Dec. 29, 2022.
Durante alongside eight other members of the 1001st Infantry Brigade who allegedly participated in the incident were guilty of several legal charges including the violation under Article of War 96 (conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman) and Article of War 97 (all disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and military discipline and all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the military service).
However, despite Durante being tagged as the mastermind, the Regional Trial Court 15 (RTC15) excluded him in the warrant of arrest last September 2023 for Plaza’s murder.
On the other hand, the Davao City Police Office (DCPO) has now relieved nine police personnel affiliated with former Toril Police Station Major Michael Uyanguren to hasten the investigation process of the Uyanguren-Saldua Case.
Justine Mae Saldua was last seen on August 28, 2023. Her family initially informed Senator Raffy Tulfo about the situation via his television program, which aired on September 28, precisely one month after Saldua's disappearance was reported.
Due to a lack of evidence, the official has not yet made the investigation's results or the precise timetable for the case's resolution.
Two of the biggest crimes that occurred in Davao Region were linked to military and police officials which questioned their credibility as frontliners and as public servants whose role was to promote a healthy and peaceful community.
2023 vs 2022 index crimes
Of the eight index crimes of 2023, rape declined to 481 from 620 cases; murder saw a decrease of 220 from 249 cases; 137 from 161 incidents of physical injuries; 136 of robbery from 150 incidents; and 250 of theft related-cases from 316.
However, homicide and carnapping cases have gained a few incidents.
Homicide 2022’s number was 39, lower compared to 46 incidents in 2023. Carnapping also registered 39 cases compared to the 28 in 2022.
For 2023, the Davao de Oro Provincial Police Office (DdOPPO) registered 196 focus crimes; Davao City Police Office (DCPO) recorded 294; 381 at the Davao del Norte Police Provincial Office (DNPPO); 216 at the Davao del Sur Police Provincial Office (DSPPO); 65 at the Davao Occidental Police Provincial Office (DOPPO); 160 at the Davao Oriental Police Provincial Office (DOPPO).
Last year’s data shows a significant decrease in crimes compared to the year 2022.
With this, police authorities implemented restrictive security measures and detachments across the region, checkpoints from every border were heightened and information dissemination about crimes and their respective penalties was strengthened. DEF