Quezon City, March 14, 2003 -- Unabated corruption in the police force has caused an alarming increase in the number of street crimes, particularly in the metropolis, Ilocos Norte Rep. Imee Marcos revealed yesterday.

In a press statement, she said incidents of cellphone snatching, stealing and other forms of robbery have continued to rise because many criminal gangs engaged in these activities enjoy police protection.

A confidential study, which Marcos' office recently commissioned, showed "street crimes" continued to increase in the last three years.

According to the lawmaker, this is triggered by the continued protection being provided by some elements of the Philippine National Police to members of cellphone snatching gangs and other street-crime groups.

Statistics culled from official records showed on any given day, around 40 to 100 cases of theft and robbery are committed in Metro Manila. Of this figures, 95 percent involves cellphone snatching.

Mobile phones have become the favorite target of robbers and thieves since these are light, easy to conceal, highly portable, saleable and have lately become fashionable and virtually an "essential" purchase for most Filipinos.

It was learned almost one out of every four Filipinos own at least one mobile phone.

Marcos and her children had been victims of Akyat-Bahay gangs last year. Her family lost a number of valuables, including top-of-the-line commu-nication gadgets and cash.

The study the lawmaker has commissioned also revealed the cellphone's emergence as the latest fad also prompted most petty thieves and thugs to switch to cellphone snatching.

This shows in the decrease the past 12 months of incidents perpetrated by holdups, Bukas-Kotse, Sungkit-Sinampay, Budol-budol, Salisi and Akyat-Bahay gangs.

Marcos also lashed out at the police for its liberal treatment of these criminal offenders since it has encouraged unscrupulous traders to engage in fencing the buying and selling of stolen items.

What is more depressing, according to the her, is that even children have been victims of these unscrupulous thieves.

"Now, even Beyblades are being stolen by these thieves," she revealed.

"Something is definitely wrong somewhere when we can no longer enjoy the luxury of feeling safe in our own homes, schools and barangays, or while walking in the streets. And there is no one to blame for these but the police," Marcos said. (Dona Policar, Tribune)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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