PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. (Screengrab from PRO 3 Facebook live video)

MANILA – Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. said the peace and order situation in the country is stable as he allayed public fear amid the reported abductions and killings in the past few weeks.

Speaking at the Police Service anniversary celebration at the Police Regional Office 3 (Central Luzon) headquarters in Pampanga on Thursday, Azurin said the PNP’s crime data has shown a steady decline in crime trends over 12 years since 2010.

He said the Peace and Order Indicator or the sum of both index and non-index crime cases has been decreasing since the start of the administration of the late president Benigno Aquino III.

“A decrease of 5.85 percent is noted comparing President PNoy and President (Rodrigo) Duterte’s administration. Likewise, a decrease of 45.24 percent is recorded in PBBM’s (President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s) administration as compared to President Duterte’s time,” he added.

Azurin added that index crimes (murder, homicide, physical injury, theft, robbery, rape, car theft) have also been on a downtrend since 2010.

“A decrease of 45.80 percent is noted comparing President PNoy and Duterte’s administration. Likewise, a decrease of 72.45 percent is recorded in PBBM’s admin as compared to President Duterte’s time,” he said.

Azurin also cautioned the public against an apparent “sensational surge in social media reporting of some crime incidents,” saying many of these are previously reported cases that had been categorized as solved by PNP units.

“Other purported crime incidents posted in social media turned out to be either rehashed or completely false information. The PNP would like to do our part in educating our people to be more discerning of the true situation, particularly on crime matters, and be able to distinguish between crime hike and crime hype,” he added.

On Wednesday, the PNP chief said some kidnapping incidents wherein the victims would end up dead in other areas are criminal incidents that are highlighted in both traditional and social media and are now being attended to by the police.

“There is no breakdown of law and order. The peace and order situation in the entire country is still manageable. There are crimes that are highlighted in different platforms but definitely, the crime rate is still low and we continuously aspire to bring it down further,” he added.

The issue of peace and order in the country has been highlighted in the past days over incidents of kidnappings and other high-profile crimes that include rape and murder.

In Batangas, a man who was forcibly taken by armed men in Taal town ended up dead in Quezon on Aug. 17 while four people were found dead inside an abandoned car in Rodriguez town, Rizal province on Aug. 22.

However, some incidents were immediately resolved by the police, including the killing of a 15-year-old girl in Bulacan and another recent rape-slay case in Malabon.

Azurin, however, sees the positive side of the highlighted criminal incidents, saying these manifest the active participation of the public in reporting crime.

“The series of crimes were highlighted because this is the first time that the different sectors of the community are starting to report the crimes they would witness. And we in the PNP are happy about it because it makes the start of the investigation easier. The rescue and police assistance of the alleged victims are attended to because they are all over the media,” he added.

On Tuesday, a pursuit operation led to the arrest of the prime suspect in the Aug. 22 rape-slay of 29-year-old Lovely Ann Villagomez in Malabon City.

The suspect, 26-year-old Jaemark Reyes, a construction worker, was arrested by members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Northern Metro Manila and the Malabon City Police Station in Malolos City, Bulacan.

Reyes was identified through gathered information, review of the closed circuit television (CCTV) camera footage, statements from witnesses, and the suspect’s revelation of his crime to his relatives.

The police immediately proceeded to Malolos City to locate the suspect where they reached the residence of Benito Fernandez, the grandfather of the suspect, who confirmed that the suspect is sleeping inside his house.

The suspect was called to come out and was positively identified by the police, resulting in his arrest.

In plain view, police found the black sports bag he was carrying and the yellow shirt and dark shorts he was wearing when he was captured by CCTV in Malabon City. (PNA)