Philippine police raising budget to deal with crime fears

 Philippine police salute at Camp Crame in suburban Manila.
Philippine police salute at Camp Crame in suburban Manila.PHOTO: AFP

MANILA (AFP) - The Philippine national police will have more money next year to modernise the force and fight lawlessness amid a pervasive fear of crime that has dominated the political scene, officials said on Tuesday (Dec 8).

The legislature has approved a 88.1-billion peso (S$2.64 billion) budget for the police force next year, 13 per cent higher than this year. This includes 3.5 billion pesos for modernisation, a 75 per cent increase over this year, said Director General Ricardo Marquez, the national police chief.

This will cover new patrol cars, surveillance equipment and a computerised crime reporting system, the first in the country.

With the new equipment, Marquez said police hope to cut the volume of crime faster than the current 5 per cent annual reduction.

Aside from the new equipment, the police will install lamps in dark alleys and build 280 new police stations, he said.

Increased police patrols this year in Metro Manila, the capital city of 12 million people, had halved the incidence of crimes such as murder and robbery and police hope to duplicate this feat nationwide, he said.

Despite police statements that the crime rate is falling, surveys showing many people fear becoming victims.

Such fears have propelled a city mayor, Rodrigo Duterte, known for his ruthless approach to criminals, to the top of some surveys of next year's preferred potential presidential candidates.

Human rights monitors say numerous suspected criminals were summarily killed during Duterte's years as mayor of the southern city of Davao.

However Duterte remains unmoved by criticism.

Asked on Tuesday about allegations he had 700 people killed, Duterte laughed and said: "That was too small. It was 1,700."