Former President Rodrigo Duterte shows a list of alleged narco politicians. PHOTO WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
I DOUBT law enforcement will publicly concede the points I am about to make. However, I am sure that the majority of them will privately state the truth behind these words: the success of law enforcement in this country largely depends on the kind of support they get from Malacañang.
Lucrative crime in the Philippines is highly organized. This almost mimics the fate of startups in that many of them fail in their first years of existence. However, those that survive the early years gradually become larger and more organized. More importantly, when they achieve a certain level of success, they will attract the interest of powerful entities looking to get their hands on the profitable (criminal) business that these groups have created, usually from scratch.
Crime is an integral part of our existence as a society.
A vital ingredient of society is the building of the laws that govern it. Even in the midst of war, as history has shown, some form of order still exists to prevent the complete annihilation of humanity. Behind this are formal and informal agreements and conventions (written and unwritten) between and among all parties to maintain order in the face of violence.
Simultaneously with the building of law and order, there is the irresistible and intoxicating attraction of criminal activity as a form of deviance. It can take the form of an impulse or a need, voluntary or involuntary. Other times it is a political statement, some form of resistance to specific laws, or just the notion of law in general. Be that as it may, crime follows law-making.
Often the crime becomes deeply seductive because of the profits made from the commission of the act. Individuals involved in criminal activities have a short life expectancy due to the danger associated with their “work”. However, the crime itself is virtually indestructible and dizzyingly profitable, especially in the context of globalization. With the entrenchment of the monetary economy throughout history, the profits of crime have invariably become financial in nature.
The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement puts the global profit from transnational crime like counterfeiting and piracy at $1.7 trillion in 2017. Narcotics trafficking, on the other hand, generates estimated revenue by the nonprofit research firm Global Financial Integrity between $426 and $652. billion. Human trafficking and forced labor profits were estimated by the International Labor Organization at $150 billion in 2016. found none.)
Such mind-blowing scales of profit fuel (transnational) criminal activity and vice versa. It invites the participation of powerful entities within the governmental firmament to ensure the protection of the criminal network. The government has the power to curb crime – if it wants to – so the involvement of senior officials in this network is key to the success of the criminal enterprise.
Experience has taught law enforcement at the lowest level of the pecking order to exercise caution in their crime-fighting activities, as they are bound to cross paths with the powerful protectors of organized crime. They try to avoid these kinds of encounters for practical reasons. Any protection they get from the uniforms they wear is only temporary at best – if there is any to begin with.
Organized crime is often embedded in the government structure because of profit. Compare that to the temporary nature of law enforcement joining the service. What will happen to them once they leave the service? These are serious concerns law enforcement faces on a daily basis.
It also explains the need for the president to be personally at the forefront of the anti-crime campaign. The president is the most powerful individual in the country and his leadership and commitment are essential in prosecuting the crimes. The president’s involvement sends a message to low-level law enforcement that once they come across organized crime in the line of duty, someone very powerful will back them up. It serves a dual purpose of reinvigorating law enforcement and curbing organized crime.
This was the case when Rodrigo Duterte was president and the results are evident.
Without the President’s firm commitment and personal involvement in the anti-crime campaign, law enforcement will be left to speculate that they will enter a landmine in the form of protectors of the organized crime within government in the performance of their duties. Thus, Malacañang’s tepid attitude towards crime has the double effect of encouraging criminal entities to intensify their activities and provoking the wavering fervor of law enforcement.
It also explains why the popular perception is that crime is back in full force despite the positive anti-crime statistics presented by the police in their reports.