MANILA, Philippines – The home of Engr. Rod Tolentino, a resident of an exclusive subdivision in Brgy. Holy Spirit, Quezon City, was robbed recently.
He said the robbers may have entered through a window located at the side of the house, and left with stolen gadgets and other valuables.
The unidentified suspects also took with them the engineer's laptop, which contained important documents for a project which, he said, was worth billions of pesos.
Because of the incident, the engineer admits that he no longer feels safe inside his home.
“Ang home office is like a sanctuary, dito ka din nagpapahinga eh. Kaya kapag pinasok ‘yun, parang in-invade na pati ang private places kung saan ka nagwo-work. Ang feeling mo tuloy, wala nang place na secured,” he said.
The robbery has prompted Tolentino to secure his home using motion sensors.
“Once umilaw ‘yan, anybody from the inside, makikita niya lahat ng taong gumagalaw outside. I think that is very important since palagi kaming nagta-travel abroad,” he said.
Tolentino’s home is inside Mapayapa Village, an exclusive subdivision with security guard working 24 hours.
However, he is forced to take on other measures of security to ensure that his family and their belongings are protected from criminals.
Atty. Kit Belmonte, president of the Neighborhood Crime Watch in Quezon City, agrees that security guards may no longer be sufficient.
“Napapag-aralan nila eh. Kahit anong security natin, porous pa din. Kasi nasa urban setting tayo, madaling dumaan at pag-aralan ang pattern ng mga security guard. Makakalusot o kaya may inside job, magkakaproblema ka na,” he said.
Police manpower in Quezon City has also been a problem.
In Quezon City Police District’s Station 6, one police officer is assigned to around 5,000 residents.
CCTVs on the rise
From January to August this year, the National Capital Region Police Office said 36 cases of home robbery incidents were reported.
In the same period, the robberies of 13 establishments were reported to police.
The crime rate in Metro Manila during the first 6 months of 2012 also increased significantly compared to last year.
From 18,671 crimes in 2011, it increased to 29,231 in 2012.
With the rise in the number of crimes, suppliers of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras say the demand for surveillance tools also increased.
“Kung mayroon kayong CCTV, mapakadali na i-litigate sila and ma-prosecute kasi you have all the evidence,” said Marco Mondejar, owner of Goodhand Security Products.
Pots, pans, whistles
But not all households can afford CCTV cameras.
In Brgy. Tandang Sora, Quezon City, some residents are finding ways to protect their homes from robbers using kitchenware and other house tools.
One resident, Maria Tubice, said she uses pots or “kaldero” as a “low-cost alarm system.”
Tubice said the pots are stacked behind a door and will create loud noises if an intruder tries opening the door at night.
“Hindi naman namin kaya bumili ng mga CCTV. Kailangan bawat bahay magkaroon ng sariling pamamaraan,” she said.
Other residents place used cans by the window, or pieces of sheet metal on walkways. They said these are enough to alert them if an intruder is attempting to enter their homes.
But the most common crime prevention tool used by the residents is a whistle.
“Syempre hindi naman pangkaraniwan na may magpi-pito ng hatinggabi kaya maaalarma talaga siya,” said one of the residents, Cecilia Andal.
Aside from coming up with ways to crime-proof homes, residents have also resorted to forming crime patrol groups within their neighborhoods.
Archie Organo, president of crime watchdog Pugadlawin Philippines, believes that empowering the people is necessary as criminals are more daring these days.
“Napakababa ng pagtingin ng mga may criminal tendency, hindi lang sa kapulisan, kung hindi sa criminal justice system, kasi ang mga gumagawa nito kung che-check-in mo ang mga record ay mga dati na ding gumagawa ng crime. So mag-iisip ka, bakit?” said Organo.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) admits that criminals have become bolder but they assure the public that they are also making adjustments,
“Kung nage-evolve man sila, of course, the PNP has to make the corresponding na adjustments,” said PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo Jr.
Cerbo also said new recruits are expected to strengthen the police force.
With the spate of rising crimes in Metro Manila, ordinary citizens are always advised to be more vigilant of their surroundings.
But Organo stressed that the burden remains on the shoulders of the PNP to restore peace and order.
“Mataas ang expectation sa kapulisan, pero dapat lang, kasi sila talaga ‘yung mandated ng batas na mangangalaga ng ating kapayapaan. Kapag mayroon natitirang kahit isang bad element, paano ‘yung ating peace of mind. Kaya napakalaki ng hamon sa kanila,” he said. -- Report from Maan Macapagal, Patrol ng Pilipino, ABS-CBN News