AT LEAST something good has come out of the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
According to the Joint Task Force (JTF) Covid Shield on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, crime incidence had dropped 47 percent since the government imposed lockdowns in March to prevent the spread of the highly infectious disease caused by the Sars-CoV-2 virus.
That’s significant. But does this mean criminals are afraid to get infected? I don’t think so.
Here in Cebu City, operatives of the Abellana Police Station arrested a high-value individual during a buy-bust along Osmeña Blvd. in Barangay Sambag 2 last Sept. 6.
They seized 200 grams of suspected shabu from 39-year-old Christopher Luces Babatid, a resident of Sitio Mangga in Barangay Calamba.
The value of the drug haul was estimated at P1.3 million.
The day before, a buy-bust in Sitio Bato in Barangay Ermita led to the arrest of 20-year-old Alex Bagay Castro Jr., another high-value target.
Police seized P204,000 worth of suspected shabu from him.
Less than a week earlier, in Barangay Suba, almost a kilo, or 937.6 grams, of shabu was seized from Marvin Torrenueva Enriquez, 38, and Jason Galan Cabellon, 35.
Police said the drugs had a street value of P6.375 million.
Cebu City Police Office Director Col. Josefino Ligan said they’ve been expecting drug personalities to ramp up their activities since the metro was placed on a less restrictive community quarantine.
However, Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, JTF commander, wasn’t talking about drug-related crimes in particular. The drop he was referring to was in the cases of murder, homicide, physical injury, rape, robbery, theft and carnapping of motorcycle and vehicle.
You know, the usual stuff.
In fact, the 60-percent plunge in robbery and theft incidents caught many in the JTF by surprise. It thought the numbers would rise, especially with so many people having lost their jobs in the last five months.
“The big decrease in cases of robbery and theft, along with zero report of looting, refutes speculations before that there would be an upsurge on crime against property and looting due to economic difficulties,” Eleazar said.
So what do these figures reveal?
Well, by his own admission, I think Eleazar and the other members of the JTF underestimated the moral resolve of the countless Filipinos who have been marginalized by the pandemic. They assumed the worst of human nature.
Or am I being too naïve? Perhaps there’s a much simpler and more cynical explanation.
At the onset of the health crisis, the government deployed the military and police to man checkpoints in major urban centers in the archipelago to control the movement of people. Perhaps, the sight of men and women in fatigues out on the streets with their long firearms was enough to deter criminals.
At any rate, the news is a welcome development.