Sampaloc crime rate down in 2018–police

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SAFER STREETS? Data from the Sampaloc police showed incidents of crime around the area of the University decreased from 2017 compared to in 2018. (Photo by Mary Jazmin D. Tabuena/The Varsitarian)

ADVERTISING arts senior Patricia Esguerra recalled the night of October 2017 when three men stole her bag after she left it on a table inside a convenience store on España Boulevard.

“I entered [Ministop] to buy something and left my bag on a table. When I came back, the bag was gone,” Esguerra told the Varsitarian through Facebook message.

“It took hours before [the police officers and I] saw the CCTV footage [from Ministop],” she added.

Esguerra’s experience was one out of the 94 theft incidents recorded around the campus in 2017 by the Manila Police District Station 4. 

Records obtained by the Varsitarian showed that such incidents and other “focus crimes” went down in 2018 compared with 2017.

These “focus crimes” are those identified by the Sampaloc police as incidents regularly reported in the vicinity of the University. These include robbery, murder, physical injuries, motorcycle or vehicle carnapping, theft, homicide and rape.

Reports of physical injuries topped the list, with 142 incidents in 2018 compared with 163 in 2017, or a 12.88 percent decrease.

Incidents of theft went down to 78 compared with 94 reported in 2017.

Murder and vehicle theft were both down by half in 2018, with 19 reported murders in the previous year compared with 38 in 2017, and three incidents of stolen vehicles in 2018 compared with six previously.

Cases of motorcycle theft stood at 25 last year, from 26 in 2017.

Homicide was down to four from 19 incidents, and incidents of rape decreased to 31 in 2018 from 39 in 2017.

Maraming incidents diyan [along UST] ng robbery and theft simply because marami kasing potential victims diyan [na mga estudyante]. Sabi nga nila, hindi ka naman mag-aaral sa UST kung hindi capable ‘yong pamilya mo [at] may kakayanan ka. Kung ikaw ay snatcher, saan ka ba pupunta? Diba doon, sa may area ng UST? Kasi maraming estudyante doon na mga potential victims,” Capt. Philipp Ines, public information officer of Sampaloc police, told the Varsitarian in an interview.

On the initiative of Sampaloc police, tricycle drivers around UST were formed into a watch group named “Eyes on the Street” to reduce cases of robbery and other crimes, said Ines. 

Stickers with control numbers were placed on tricycles, and “Lingkod Bayan” cards or contact details of the police were distributed around the campus for easier coordination with the authorities.

Kung ikaw ay isang estudyante at may nakita kang krimen, ang hihilingin lang namin sa iyo ay tulungan mo kami. Kung may napapansin kang unusual, dapat i-report mo sa amin,” Ines said.

Hindi maa-address ng police ‘yan alone. Kayo ang nandiyan,” he added.

Ines said the police was planning to open a new outpost on Alfonso Mendoza Street near Dapitan Street and add more motorcycles to patrol the vicinity of the campus.

SUN Watch revival

In 2013, the Sampaloc-UST Neighborhood Watch (SUN Watch) was launched, aiming to prevent crimes in the Sampaloc district.

The watchdog group was composed of UST and partners such as schools, business establishments, the PNP and barangay patrols.

Two years since it was founded, SUN Watch was modified by Central Student Council (CSC) president Ina Vergara to include a financial literacy seminar for tricycle drivers as well as basic art workshops for their children with the help of the College of Fine Arts and Design student council.

Drug tests and accreditation of tricycle drivers who operate near Light Rail Train stations around the University—Tayuman, Bambang, and Legarda—were also conducted to help ensure the security of Thomasian commuters.

With only a few months before the academic year ends, hopes for the revival of the project amid reports of theft and harassment becoming prevalent on social media, may not materialize.

Incumbent CSC Vice President Victor Amores, who banked on the platform of ensuring Thomasians’ safety and security, told the Varsitarian in April 2018 that he was eyeing to bring back SUN Watch as part of his campaign promises.

The Pharmacy senior who ran unopposed in last year’s student council polls said his concern was the safety of Thomasians who go out at night to study in co-working establishments around UST.

Today, the project, which had the original purpose of crime prevention outside the UST campus, may turn into a community development project instead.

“[‘Yong] SUN Watch, ire-rebranch siya this year. [I]mbis na ang focus namin ay ang mga barangay at mga [tricycle drivers], ang focus namin is mga future leaders na sa mga schools, along kung saan naka-locate sa mga barangays nila. Ang gusto ng Simbahayan [ay] magkaroon ng youth formation para at least sila rin makagawa ng activities sa kanilang mga communities,” the council vice president said.

He said the council was supposed to reach out to Manila City Hall but was told by the Office for Student Affairs (OSA) that the office would instead get in touch with city officials.

With the Student Affairs office handling the process of re-organizing SUN Watch, the CSC will instead conduct a seminar-workshop on disaster and risk reduction management as part of its sustainability project scheduled in March. Angelika V. Ortega and Marem A. de Jemel

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