Citizen participation needed as PH faces pandemic crime wave

National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM) urged the public to participate in crime control and prevention as the coronavirus disease pandemic causes a spike in crime prevalence and lawlessness.

NAPOLCOM Commissioner Vitaliano Aguirre II emphasized that families, schools, private businesses, civic groups, and public agencies are potential assets and valued allies in preventing crime and promoting the better functioning of the criminal justice system. 

“We all need to adjust to the challenges of the times. When obstacles present themselves, we must strive and be open to learning new things so that we can continue to be relevant. Our volatile world calls for an agile response,” he said in his speech during the kick-off ceremony of the 27th National Crime Prevention Week (NCPW).

The commissioner cited the need for community-oriented policies to provide a mechanism for government agencies, local chief executives, police, and members of the mobilized community to cooperate, coordinate, and collaborate for the effective delivery of basic services to the citizenry.

Meanwhile, NAPOLCOM noted that incidents of rape, theft, physical injuries, carnapping, and violations registered under resistance and disobedience to a person in authority are in an upward trend.

“Even if all the crimes have been observed to decrease because of the community quarantine lockdowns, it has also enabled new illicit markets to thrive,” Aguirre said.

Cases of murder and homicide declined which can be attributed to the continuous and sustained police operations even during quarantine restrictions.

In addition, Aguirre underscored that as the community quarantine restricted the movement of people, occurrence of violence shifted from the streets to the homes making women and children more at risk to violence and abuse. 

“Consequently, this prompts us to channel our crime prevention efforts directly towards the communities, particularly by providing better police presence in visibility and residential areas,” he stated.

The official said these crimes equate to the necessity to review and revisit the strategies and programs as the current crisis resulted in challenges in countering criminality and criminal justice. 

Also, Aguirre highlighted that cybercrime victimizations are increasing as the virtual shift in the mode of communication caused by the pandemic provided an opportunity to criminals to find potential victims online.

“These conditions are signals for us to step up and continue to look for dynamic ways to prevent these online crimes. By large, agencies of the government have maximized the use of technology to continue providing services and fulfilling their duties and responsibilities, most of all public service frontline desks, which have made and expanded their online presence,” he suggested.

Lastly, Aguirre urged for an immediate action to prepare, respond, and recover to these crimes with the hope that the NCPW celebration will help achieve some gains in this direction.

“The choice is fairly simple. Either we stagnate or take on the challenges to grow our capacities as servants and protectors of our people… Needless to say, our sworn duty to protect the lost, the last, and the least should never waver,” he said.

With the theme “Komunidad at Pamahalaan Magtulungan, Krimen, Korapsyon at Pandemya Labanan”, the NCPW observance focuses on strengthening the partnership between government agencies and communities in fighting crime and corruption amid the coronavirus disease pandemic. 

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