April 22, 2016

Oplan Lambat-Sibat: PNP admits "doctored" crime stats

Mar Roxas said Davao’s safety is a myth, or is his Oplan Lambat-Sibat the myth? Either Roxas is terrible at Math, or he thinks we are that stupid.
ThinkingPinoy first published this article in December 2015. It has been updated to reflect recent developments. If you're read the old article, please skip the first several sections and go straight to the "Update".
Before I elaborate, let’s hear both sides first.

Side A: The Liberal Party

Liberal Party (LP) spokesman Edgar Erice hit the Davao City government on November 30th for rising to the 4th city with highest crime volume nationwide in 2014, despite being regarded as the 4th safest city on earth. Erice also happens to be the former president of SR Metals, Mar Roxas' illegal miner crony [TP: Roxas awards Illegal Miner Crony].

Liberal Party spokesman Edgar Erice

Erice also pointed out Caloocan City’s enviable reported crime volume, saying that Caloocan’s crime volume of 8,000 is far lower than Davao’s 18,119.
Erice showed showed the following 2014 crime data [Inquirer]:

Rank / City / Crime Volume

1 / Quezon City / 40,433

2 / Manila / 22,778

3 / Zamboanga City / 19,089

4 / Davao City / 18,119

LP, through table above, suggests that Davao, instead of being the 4th safest city on the planet, is the 4th most crime-ridden city in the country.

LP presidential bet Mar Roxas seconded Erice’s claims two weeks later. Roxas repeated that Davao has the “4th highest crime [rate]” in the Philippines.

“It’s a myth, imagination that it’s peaceful in Davao City. I’m not putting them down here, I’m just citing data,” added Roxas.

Mar Roxas even lauded the “scientific crime reporting” from the PNP through its Oplan Lambat-Sibat [Roxas blog].

Side B: Davao Police

Philippine National Police (PNP) Davao City Police Office (DCPO) issued a statement to clarify the issue [Davao PNP].

DCPO said that out while the 18,119 crime volume is correct, the figure comprises the combination of 6,548 index crimes and 11,571 non-index crimes.
PNP defines index crimes as crimes against persons (e.g. murder, homicide, physical injury and rape) and crimes against property (e.g. robbery, theft, carnapping, carjacking and cattle rustling) [Sunstar].

All other crimes are considered non-index crimes, including minor misdemeanors (e.g. truancy, prostitution, and vandalism), violations of ordinances (e.g. smoking in public spaces, illegal fireworks, using videokes at night), and police-initiated operations (e.g.buy-bust operations, arrests of drug pusher and addicts, raids, stings).

DCPO said non-index crimes in Davao City “are police-initiated operations that yielded positive results, especially on anti-drug [efforts and] other special laws”.

“They (Roxas and Erice) are not showing the true facts on this issue,” DCPO added.

It’s also interesting to note that in 2015, just before the election season, Mar Roxas, in his capacity as DILG Secretary even awarded Davao City with the “Seal of Good Local Governance”, among others.

Awarded just a few months before Roxas and LP's statement.

This should be the part where we start verifying claims by analysing their statements, the data they’ve provided, publicly available online data, and information about PNP’s data collection methodology, similar to the ThinkingPinoy article about Robredo’s claim that Naga is as safe as Davao.

But before that, let’s examine the…

Quality of PNP Crime Data

Remember that Erice released those statements on November 30th, with the credibility of his claims resting on the 2014 PNP crime statistics that were purportedly in his possession. In the interest of fairness, I chose not to comment on it right away. I waited for him to release the actual document to the public.

All this despite my lingering doubts on the accuracy of those reports, especially after PNP’s own admission that at least one of their police chiefs doctored crime reports.

For example, I tried to verify Erice’s claim that Caloocan is far more peaceful than Davao City per 2014 PNP Crime Statistics [Rappler].

In August 2014, however, NPD Director Edgar Layon fired Caloocan Police Chief Bernard Tambaoan for allegedly allowing his men to “alter records of crimes in his area of jurisdiction” to reflect a lower crime rate [ABSCBN].

It’s odd to discover that the PNP also appears to be confused with its own crime records.
  • On August 3rd, PNP reported that nationwide crime volume from January to June 2015 rose by 46% [Philstar].
  • A day later, PNP retracted that report and said that nationwide crime volume actually decreased by 15% [Philstar].
  • PNP said 885,445 crimes were reported in the 1st half of 2015, 46% higher than 2014’s 602,449.
  • PNP said 509,924 in this 2015 figure were considered valid, as they were unable to validate the remaining 375,521 cases.
  • Using the lower crime volume, PNP deduced that nationwide crime volume actually went down by 15%.
  • PNP even noted that NCR’s crime volume dropped by an impressive 60%, despite being understaffed [ABSCBN].

The problem with this is that the public is not given the complete picture. The crime statistics quoted by these PNP and LP officials were already subjected to their own interpretations.

CIDG chief on Oplan Lambat-Sibat

In October 2014, shortly after launching PNP’s Oplan Lambat-Sibat, then-DILG secretary Mar Roxas fired and replaced all NCR police chiefs except for Eastern Police District Chief Abelardo Villacorta [Rappler].

Asked by the press as to why he did it, Roxas said, “All I know is that the present statistics is not acceptable… that’s why we decided that maybe it’s time for new leadership.” Roxas added.

Since Oplan Lambat-Sibat’s launch, the immense pressure to improve crime statistics was felt throughout the Police hierarchy.

In an August 2015 Senate investigation , PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Chief Benjamin Magalong admitted that Oplan Lambat-Sibat exerts severe pressure on each local police station to lower their crime rates [Interaksyon].

“We are now turning the heat on stations that reported high crime rate. We ask: where is your crime prevention program?,” Magalong told the Senate panel.
Local police stations, especially those within crime-prone jurisdictions, desperately avoided the DILG Secretary’s wrath by making sure that the crime volume went down, no matter what.

“Because of the ingenuity of Filipino policemen, there still existed some level of inaccurate reporting, which prompted higher authority to send put Red Teams randomly to check on how complaints were being recorded, investigated and solved,” admitted Magalong.

How PNP twists crime stats

CIDG Chief Magalong

Launched in July 2014, Roxas’ brainchild Oplan Lambat-Sibat supposedly makes crime-fighting scientific, systematic, and hence, more effective [Mar Roxas Blog].

Oplan Lambat-Sibat’s primary measure of crime-fighting effectiveness is Total Crime Volume, which is the total number of records in police blotter books. Under this scheme, it logically follows that decreasing the number of police blotters is key to meeting performance goals .

Unfortunate, "decreasing" meant doctoring crime data.

In the same senate hearing, Magalong mentioned several techniques that local police stations use to do that [Interaksyon]:
  1. intentional non-recording of complaints
  2. outright refusal to investigate reports
  3. usage of two different blotter books (1 for true, 1 for doctored)
  4. police-initiated unofficial settlements between complainants and suspects
  5. telling victims to go to another police station

An unofficial settlement happens when a local policeman talks to the complainant and the suspect to settle the situation among themselves. When both agree, the station will not record the report anymore, thereby reducing the number of reported crimes for that jurisdiction.

“For example, a snatcher ran away with your P200. The police officer might think it’s too much trouble and tells you, here, take this P200. You have your money back. Are you still going to report this?,” Magalong explained.

Magalong also explained that in some instances, a local police station asks a victim to file complaints in another police station. The next police station then advises the victim to report to another police station, and so on. The victim eventually gets discouraged and ceases from attempting to file a complaint.


Why not use Index Crime stats?

Roxas and Erice’s definition of “Safety” is based on total crime volume, without regard to the kind of crimes that make up each figure. The issue with this method is that petty crimes such as overspeeding, public intoxication, or parking violations, are given the same weight as heinous crimes such as murder and rape.

For example, suppose:
  • City A’s crime volume = 100
  • City B’s crime volume = 50

Using Roxas’ logic, it’s twice more dangerous to be in City A than in City B. Plain and simple, but there lies a flaw. What if:
  • City A’s crime volume of 100 equals 90 parking violations plus 10 murder-robberies, while
  • City B’s crime volume of 50 equals 10 parking violations and 40 murder-robberies.

That is, there would be four times more murder-robberies in City B than in City A, but City B is still “safer” than A.

For a regular citizen like me, I would be more alarmed at City B’s peace and order situation. I wouldn’t really be scared of parking violations because illegally parked cars won’t kill me.
But therein lies the problem: using Roxas’ logic, the PNP will still insist that B is safer than A, simply because B has a lower crime volume, despite the fact that I am four times more likely to get murdered and robbed in B than in A.

But the Liberal Party, headed by Erice and Roxas, and empowered by Oplan Lambat-Sibat, insist that they’re right. Can this be the kind of thinking that eventually led to PDEA Undersecretary Butch Belgica’s resignation?

So who’s lying, LP or Davao?

After more than 8 hours of searching the web (the websites of PNP, NSCB, PSA, DILG, PDEA, DDB, local newspapers) and risking my own life to call the PNP public information office (you’ll never know what people can do to stay in power), my excel sheet is still blank. I have yet to find a single document that actually contains 2014 national and local index crime volume data.

Unfortunately, I cannot force the PNP to provide me with some, especially since I cannot invoke Freedom of Information, as it doesn’t and probably won’t ever exist. If one of my readers can provide reliable information, I will be eternally grateful.

So how about 2015 crime data? After all, it’s the most relevant data available.

All that’s available on the web today are the average monthly crime rate statistics of some, but not all, NCR cities.

For now, forget the fact that PNP crime stats are questionable at best. On a national level, there aren’t any meaningful numbers to play with anyway.

To verify Oplan Lambat-Sibat’s “scientific reports”, we need raw, unadulterated data, that covers months’ worth of crime reports.

Perhaps, that’s something that only Mar Roxas knows.

UPDATE: Then came the index crime stats

Four months after I wrote the initial post, the PNP has finally released index crime data [Rappler]. Released on 01 April 2015, the data shows index crimes in major cities from the years 2010 to 2015.

Under normal circumstances, I should be happy because the PNP, at long last, released the much-awaited crime data. But there are problems with this data set.

First, PNP admits doctoring of Crime Stats

ThinkingPinoy discovered just today, 21 April 2016, that PNP itself admitted doctoring  incidents in pre-2014 crime data. [People's Journal].

In February 2014, Roxas himself admitted that the PNP is severely understaffed, implying under-reporting of crimes.

Roxas said, "Tasked to protect a population of more than 92 million, the 150,000-strong PNP still lacks the manpower for the organization to achieve the ideal police ratio. [Inquirer]"
The ideal policeman-to-population ratio is 2.5 per 1,000 population [IACP]. Assuming that all 150,000 PNP employees are police officers that actually patrol the streets, that's a depressing 1.63:1000 ratio, or 34.8% below the ideal figure.
That is, from the time of the dinosaurs until February 2014 at the earliest, PNP's crime data is unreliable. I am not making allegations here: the PNP admitted it themselves.

The newly-released data covers January 2010 to December 2015, or a period of 72 months. Based on the previous revelations, Data from January 2010 up to February 2014 (a period of 50 months) are unreliable.

That is, 50 out of 72, or 69%,  of the months covered in this new report are tainted by doctored crime reports, based on the PNP's own admissions.

How about post-February 2014?

Unfortunately, the PNP gave us just one big table covering six years, without a yearly breakdown of index crime data. Thus, there is no way to isolate those months (post-February 2014) that may contain more reliable data.

Well, we don't really need to bother anymore, because CIDG Chief Magalong himself himself admitted in a Senate hearing that local police continue to fake crime statistics after the July 2014 launch of Oplan Lambat-Sibat, due to intense pressure from tthen-Secretary Roxas [Interaksyon].

But here's the most important question: Why didn't the PNP just release 2015 Crime Data?

Things would have been so much simpler to analyze and it would've required far less effort to prepare, or maybe because 2015 data doesn't suit PNP's real objectives?

As the old saying goes, "If you torture the data long enough, it will confess to anything."

Kung hindi sila nagsayang ng oras sa pagluluto ng numero, baka sakali pang nagamit nila ang resources nila para maiwasan ang Kidapawan Massacre.  

Wala e, iba ang priorities.

Accusations of Politicking

The data set was released on April 1st, about a month before the May 9 elections, suggesting a political motive as the leading candidate [TP: Surveys] is best known for a crime-fighting platform. For one, TP has complained months ago that PNP is historically lazy at publicly reporting crime stats, so any critical thinker will suspect a motive behind this sudden enthusiasm.

However, for the sake of argument, let's assume for a moment that the new stats are true, that Davao City indeed is the 4th most dangerous city to live in, and that we should take this into account when choosing our next president.

The following facts remains: Miriam, Poe, and Binay are not known for their crimefighting platforms.

That is, we are left with two choices:
  1. Rodrigo Duterte, who hails from Davao City.
  2. Mar Araneta Roxas, who hails from Araneta Center, Quezon City.
Now, look at the table below:
Index Crime Stats 2010 to 2015, released by PNP on 01 April 2015.

Sige, Roxas, kunwari, totoo ang sinabi mo. Kung pang-apat si Digong at pang-una ang mismong siyudad mo, e di lalo kitang hindi iboboto. [TP].


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