Does rule of law still exist here?
Dumaguete City -- Life in this city, as not a few people have observed, has become so cheap in this "City of Gentle People."
Motives range from a personal grudge, business rivalry, land dispute, love triangle, or involvement in the illegal drugs trade, almost at the slightest provocation. Could it be because of hard times?
Eliminating one's adversary with the use of a gun appears to be the preferred express mode of settling a dispute in Dumaguete. Does the rule of law still exist in this city of supposed gentle people?
But regardless of the motive, we in media think that killers are so emboldened because they probably think they'll never get caught. OUR CITY AUTHORITIES HAVE YET TO PROVE THEM WRONG! The question is when?
And likely so. We don't need to look far. The list of unsolved killings these past several years should be more than enough to prove that statement. And what can our law enforcers say? --- And do?
Call in the Infantry?
Our knee-jerk reaction is to buy firearms for our barangay tanods, allow private citizens to carry firearms, or call in the infantry. We think of big things, forgetting that we can also address the problem as effectively with small and simple solutions ---to start with doable things.
New York City, in the 1980s, was gripped with a crime epidemic, reaching its peak in 1990. Then the crime rate rapidly went down. Murders dropped by two-thirds and felonies were cut in half. Why? Because authorities started enforcing the small rules, like traffic, graffiti, squatters, curfew, jaywalking, making an impression that this city means business and the law is enforced. From small things to big things.
Once criminals believe that THIS CITY MEANS BUSINESS, then would-be criminals will have second thoughts of committing crime. But not with this apparent conditions prevailing in the city.
Broken windows theory
Two NY authorities on crime George Kelling and James Wilson, formulated the "Broken Windows Theory", which goes that if a window is broken, passersby will think no one cares or no one is in charge. Soon, there will be more broken windows and a sense of lawlessness will prevail in the street fronting the building. Broken windows invite crime.
The City of New York didn't field death squads. They simply cleaned up the city by fixing its "broken windows."
They ran after the jaywalkers, QUICKLY painted over graffiti and arrested those who jumped the turnstiles in the subways.
The message was simple - we will not tolerate even a simple misdemeanor. And it worked.
We have several broken windows in our community which we can fix. We have problems with traffic, drugs, informal settlers, graffiti and the environment, to name a few.
We don't have to think of very big and complicated solutions. We can solve this epidemic by fixing one broken window at a time. Trouble is, our local authorities do not seem to know where and when to start.
Here's a tip: start fixing simple broken windows.