As the poverty incidences in the Philippines and the proportion of Filipino families experiencing involuntary hunger increases in the last decade, the Philippine National Police (PNP) reported that crime rates in the country are in a downward trend. According to the PNP, 502,665 cases of crimes were recorded in 2009 to only 246,958 in 2011, indicating an average monthly decrease of 3.57% by the end of 2011. The PNP’s Chief Executive claimed that the drop in crime rate was because effective anti-crime measures have been put in place in the form of increased police visibility in crime prone areas.

The PNP efforts to stop crime were great but I don’t think it’s the best solution nor the most effective to bring crime rates down. Alleviating Filipinos from poverty, unemployment, illiteracy and other ills of our society can do little to have a significant impact to maintain peace and order in our neighborhoods.   To fix the problem, the root cause of crime should be addressed.

The cause of crime is not poverty or the inability of the government to provide basic social needs such as jobs and education. Crimes are caused by people making wrong moral choices. Yes, lack of employment or food on the table is an influence but its the lack of moral training that cause an individual to steal, cheat or murder. Most Filipinos know what’s right or wrong but the bigger question, and most important question to ask - do Filipinos have the will to do what is right even in the face of temptation or incentives to do what’s wrong?

To deal with crime we have to start with the task of moral reformation and teaching ethics to Filipinos. Increasing police presence and stricter crime laws only creates overcrowded prisons and not a reformed crime-free society. Family breakdown is the leading indicator of criminal activity. Instilling good character and virtues of self-discipline, integrity and service within the context of a loving family and healthy community structures like schools and churches is the best anti-crime program we all can take part and believe in. Of course its ideal to start forming these virtues when Filipinos are young. But it’s not too late to start for adults. Because latest statistic shows that high poverty doesn’t necessarily mean high  crimes. It’s not poverty but depravity that causes crimes.  To slow it down, it should begin not by empowering the PNP but strengthening the Filipino family.

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