Expats often talk of the high crime rate in the Philippines. Are they accurate? Is the crime rate in the Philippines high?
Is The Rate of Crime in the Philippines High?
I’m not sure. It is my perception that crime is low in the Philippines. Now there are hot spots of crime. There are ways to make yourself a bigger target for crime. Walking down a street in Cebu City or Manila while texting on your cell phone is one of the more common mistakes. Gold jewellery or jewellery that looks like gold on Colon Street in Cebu city is one of the best ways I know of to make yourself a victim of crime. Anything that makes you stand out in the crowd increases your exposure to criminals. Being white in the Philippines increases your exposure.
Why does being white increase your exposure? Because you stand out! One reason is obvious, you look different from most of those around you. The second reason is that you represent wealth. I know it might not be true but to a poor Filipina you will almost always be wealthy. Even if you are not well off, you will be seen as that way by most.
I’ve tried to get some stats over the last couple of days regarding the crime rate in the Philippines. At first glance, the stats confirm my suspicions that crime is low in the Philippines. I looked up crime per capita for murder, burglary, rape and a few other areas. Even in bribery, the Philippines was not listed in the top 50 countries.
When dealing with stats though, one should dig a little deeper. I then looked at the countries were crimes are most likely to be reported and the Philippines was not listed there either. That didn’t surprise me at all. Then I noticed this disclaimer on the site:
Crime statistics are often better indicators of prevalence of law enforcement and willingness to report crime, than actual prevalence.
So, in a country where the people think authorities will do nothing about crime, they don’t report it. Or if there is such high distrust of the police, people wont report it. So low crime stats don’t mean low crime at all. They may mean the rate of crime is so high that no one even bothers to report it.
So I turn to my own personal observations. While I hear of the crime reports, mostly from friends of friends I don’t see much of it myself. I don’t see as much crime in the paper either. Then again, they are going to get most of their reports from the police. I would think that murder rates would be somewhat more accurate. And the Philippines is not listed in the top 62 countries in the world for murder rate. Murder is going to get reported even when those around don’t want it reported. Sure, out in the remote mountains this may not hold true but for most areas, murder will get reported.
Also, bank robberies will get reported. I observed in an article today that there have been only two bank robberies in Cebu City this year. Memphis and Cebu are close to the same size I looked up bank robberies in Memphis and counted 10 on the first page of Google’s search results.
I Do Not Think The Philippines Crime Rate Is High
I remain with perception that crime in the Philippines is lower than crime in most other countries. Petty theft is probably the most likely crime will run into. Pick pockets are around. People will cut your jewellery off in an action so smooth that you may not notice it even happened. If you do notice, they may be gone before you can react. That is probably for the best.
A friend of mine found his watch band had been sliced but the humidity caused it to stick to his skin so the bandits never got the goods. You know, that’s kind of funny. That guy though, he hangs out in places I wont go. He has had several instances of problems. Once some kids took his wallet but then suddenly gave it back. He treats people well and I’m willing to bet whoever those kids were working for told them to give it back. He never found out the reason for the reversal of his fortune. Very odd indeed and gives him a great story! He has too many stories because he takes too many chances. I think now, he’s beginning to get the picture though.
Living in the Philippines requires adjustments. It requires learning the do’s and don’ts. I covered a few of them in this article. Live in the Philippines, have fun. Educate yourself and exercise some common sense. Nothing is guaranteed but don’t believe the hype when someone tells you it is heaven on earth and don’t believe the hype about the high crime in the Philippines.
Filed under: Living In The Philippines
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