90% of RP crimes are solved in less than 1 year: a lie that can make you cry?

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When I read that Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Jesus Versoza on Thursday announced that about 90% of crimes in the country had been solved in less than year, I thought it was a typo error. But I made sure I was not reading it wrong.

In a press conference after a closed door command conference with key PNP officials, Verzosa said that of the 62,148 crime incidents reported in 11 months, 89.43 percent have been solved.”—-Inquirer, (12/17/08, Kwok, A)

I was convinced that this is inconsistent to the crime profile of the country that I know. What does “solving a crime” mean to the PNP director? What are the “crime incidents” is he referring to? In my book solving a crime means investigating a case, recognizing the criminal, ascertaining his complicity, bringing him to court, having him serve jail time if guilty, and rehabilitating him to be a responsible citizen before he is released from jail. The process definitely takes longer than a year.

The PNP director is probably lying. I couldn’t comprehend how a top government official has that gall to misinform the public at the expense of himself, the military, and the country. The motto of the police is service, honor and justice. Is he the corruption that has run wild in the military service?

HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES IN THE PHILIPPINES

One can discern the hard reality from personal experience or by doing a little reading. Many crimes go unreported. I know there are many journalists being killed without resolution of their cases. They are part of a large group of crime victims that range from a gamut of circumstances—from simple robbery to mass murder. The US State Department report on the human rights record of the Philippines in 2006, had the following was reported:

“During the year there were a number of arbitrary, unlawful, and extrajudicial killings apparently by elements of the security services and of political killings, including killings of journalists, by a variety of actors. Many of these killings went unsolved and unpunished, contributing to a climate of impunity, despite intensified government efforts during the year to investigate and prosecute these cases.

Members of the security services committed acts of physical and psychological abuse on suspects and detainees, and there were instances of torture. Arbitrary or warrantless arrests and detentions were common. Trials were delayed and procedures were prolonged. Prisoners awaiting trial and those already convicted were often held under primitive conditions.

Corruption was a problem in all the institutions making up the criminal justice system, including police, prosecutorial, and judicial organs. During a brief “state of emergency” in February, there was some attempted interference in freedom of the press and in the right of assembly.

In addition to the killings mentioned above, leftwing and human rights activists were often subject to harassment by local security forces. Problems such as violence against women and abuse of children, child prostitution, trafficking in persons, child labor, and ineffective enforcement of worker rights were common.” http://www.state.gov/ (US State Department) Philippines: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices-2006 Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (03/06/07)

77% OF PRISONERS ARE VICTIMS OF JUDICIAL ERROR

The report about prisoners in the Philippines is telling. Raymond Narag, a law student served 7 years in detention for murder which he never committed. He later worked as consultant on prison reform in the Philippine Supreme Court (SC.) According to him, 3 out of 4 prisoners (77%) in the Philippines are victims of judicial error. The average pre-sentencing detention is 3.2 years. Jailbirds are forced to plead guilty to escape hardships in detention in favor of being in the National Penitentiary where the conditions are better.

“Inmates are dying in our city jails at an alarming rate. They are suffering from boils, tuberculosis, chicken pox and other simple but highly communicable diseases. In the Quezon City Jail alone, there are two to five deaths per month. The sad fact is that they are dying before being sentenced.” —Raymond Narag

Quezon City Jail was built for only 815 detainees. Now, it houses about 3,400 inmates. This means that each prisoner has 0.28 sq2 m of living space which is way below the 3 sq2 m per person the United Nations considers the minimum standard for the treatment of prisoners.” —PIME; http://www.asia.news.it (10/22/04, Evangelista, S)

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

I have no reason to believe that the data above have drastically changed for the better this year. I haven’t heard of any evidence to the contrary. Instead, I recall my dead brother Henry who died from vehicular injuries without retribution on those who sold fake drugs that caused his demise. He was left in Naga City jail for hours without medical attention on a wrong assumption that his stupor was due to drunkenness, not from the brain damage from his injury. At least one doctor in Bicol Medical Center was complicit in peddling the counterfeit medicine.

I remember my friend’s mom, a widow who was stabbed by a robber while walking home after a day’s work in a Quezon City bakery. The sole witness of her slay was himself a victim of unsolved political disappearance, a case unrelated to the murder. My first cousin Orly was killed in a traffic accident in Manila by a hit-and-run driver. No one went to jail for these crimes. They were among at least 10 people I knew who died; their cases remained cold for more than a decade. I don’t know of a single heinous crime in the Philippines that had been solved. So can you see why I don’t believe General Versoza? How about you?(Photo Credits: http://www.bardu.net; ronaldhackson; http://www.bardu.net; planetradio; planetradio; ace_kupal)

RELATED BLOGS: “Journalist killings continue” Posted by mesiamd at 12/09/08; ” Another gruesome journalist’s slay” Posted by mesiamd at 11/17/2008; “When they start telling us we’re unworthy of help” Posted by mesiamd at 12/16/2008; ” On Philippine Corruption And Our Being Inure To It” Posted by myty555 at 12/16/2008; “Rising Road Accidents” Posted by mesiamd at 10/27/2008

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