Filipino sociologist Prof. Randy David in his recent column in one of the national broadsheets has aptly described the sate in which the public and the government is in: ‘Moral panic.’
Criminals appear more brazen. The police seem more helpless, or in cahoots with the criminals themselves. Prosecutors are unable to pin down the guilty; the courts are not trusted. Journalists are murdered. Politicians are beyond the reach of the law. The metropolis has become the hunting ground of carnappers, terrorist groups, mobile phone muggers and motorbike-riding hold-up men. Criminal syndicates dealing in drugs, human trafficking and kidnap for ransom operate with impunity. And the whole government itself seems powerless to combat corruption.
The recent wave of crimes, accidents and a bombing incident has rattled the collective psyches of government officials and the citizenry.
In response to the recent brutal murders related to car dealerships, lawmakers have proposed the re-imposition of the death penalty.
To help law enforcement agencies with intelligence gathering and tracking down terrorists and other criminals, the registration of SIM card modules have been proposed through legislation.
To top it all off, a Senator has asked President Aquino to appoint a so-called ‘anti-crime czar’ that will spearhead the manhunt for the mastermind of these recent crimes.
These proposals are not without merit. However, looking at the bigger picture, it is not hard to conclude that such are more of knee-jerk reactions that fail to really put these crimes in check – prevent such from happening or deter its re-occurrence through effective and efficient law enforcement , crime solving and prosecution.
They fail to address what Prof David has illustrated: Criminals being less fearful in doing their crimes partly because either the police are in cahoots with them or are completely inept at doing their job. Prosecutors in this country are the almost the same and our courts amongst the untrustworthy today.
The situation has gone down so low, one would hardly need academicians, pundits and even opinion polls to say that Filipinos are now indeed in a panicked state. Just listen to them and you’d often read and hear that for now, prayers are all they are clinging to in these troubled times.