Is Naga a shabu hotbed? PNP misreads crime data

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Is Naga City a shabu (methamphetamine) hotbed as President Rodrigo Duterte has claimed?

The Philippine National Police (PNP) believes that their Commander-in-chief has basis to announce it, top cop Director General Oscar Albayalde said on Wednesday, August 22.

Citing PNP numbers, Albayalde said Naga City is 5th on the list of cities across the Philippines with the highest volume of crimes against persons and properties

However, on Thursday, August 23, the PNP spokesperson acknowledged the fact check that Rappler did: that Albayalde mistook the listing of cities by region as one arranged according to crime volume.. Because Naga is in Bicol, which is Region V, Naga therefore appeared 5th on the lists for 2017 and 2018. (READ: WRONG: 'Naga top 5 city in crime volume')

"[A]mong the major cities of the country, Naga City has consistently ranked number 5 in terms of crime volume in the first semester of 2017 and 2018," Albayalde told reporters on Wednesday.

Albayalde said the top 4 cities are Santiago in Isabela, Angeles in Pampanga, Olongapo in Zambales, and Puerto Princesa in Palawan – from regions II, III, and IV-B. 

Why does crime volume matter? The Philippine National Police has long held that the volume of crime is directly proportional to drug proliferation.

This is based on the anecdotal evidence of cops that crimes are perpetrated by people craving for or high on shabu, and that crimes are masterminded by high-profile drug lords.

When asked whether the PNP has data directly pointing to Naga as a source of illegal drugs, the PNP said it would to release it to reporters. (READ: No 'real number' on drug rehab: Here's why)

Naga rose to prominence for being the hometown of Vice President Leni Robredo, the opposition figurehead repeatedly lambasted by President Duterte. Robredo's late husband, Jesse, was a longtime mayor of the city. – 

Editor’s Note: This report, which originally carried the headline "Shabu hotbed? Naga is top 5 in crime volume, says PNP," has been updated to reflect the fact check done by Rappler that showed PNP chief Oscar Albayalde misread the document he presented to the media on Wednesday, August 22. PNP spokesperson Senior Superintendent Benigno Durana apologized for their mistake.


Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.