Dear Mr. President, I don't feel safe in my own country

By Raïssa Robles

Posted at Jul 29 2012 04:05 PM | Updated as of Jul 30 2012 12:05 AM

Just my opinion

I know, I know. Police statistics show an overall drop in crime. You said that in your State of the Nation address.

But that does not give me, nor many Filipinos, much comfort.

I just don’t feel safe in my own country. I don’t wear any jewelry that my mother gave me because it might be snatched or worse, I might be held up just for it. Sometimes, when I see men and women sporting thick gold necklaces which they bought in foreign lands, I am tempted to caution them to remove the dangerous baubles.

Whenever I walk the streets of Metro Manila, I make sure my handbag is not hanging from my shoulder that’s near the kerb just in case robbers on motorbikes try to snatch it. When I’m in a vehicle I make sure all the doors are locked. Before boarding a cab, I look at the cab driver to gauge whether he might be a robber in disguise.

I don’t anymore ride the bus for fear of robbery.

After the recent shooting in Colorado, where a masked man entered a movie house and opened fire with an automatic rifle on the audience, I asked myself whether something like that could happen in Metro Manila. Maybe in the conflict-torn parts of Mindanao but not in Metro Manila, I thought.

However, last week I had appointments that took me from Trinoma mall to the computer wing of SM North Edsa and back. It was quite a long walk. But what struck me was the number of security guards with wands I had to open my handbag for and be patted by. I had to submit to seven separate pat downs and bag searches that day.

This is something that westerners find weird here but which has become a fact of life in Metro Manila. Despite such security, armed robbers still manage to strike inside malls.

Another thing that a German friend found odd in our national capital region is the pervasive use of barbed wire strung atop gates and walls of houses. Again, it is something that many residents including myself have taken for granted. Another thing taken for granted is the number of dead bolt locks that homes need for the front door and all other doors that can be opened from the outside.

There is a very disturbing trend in Metro Manila of various streets putting up gates and shutting them at night to keep away robbers. After dark, Metro Manila turns into a garrison city.

This is not the way to live.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.