Aquino admits snags in anti-crime drive

Bringing high-profile fugitives to justice has been a problem, he says

Malou Granada, Manila, Philippines

May 17, 2012

President Benigno Aquino yesterday admitted suffering setbacks in the fight against crime, particularly in terms of arresting high-profile fugitives. In a radio interview, Aquino said the failure to bring Congressman Ruben Ecleo Jr, former Palawan governor Joel Reyes and retired military general Jovito Palparan to justice had dampened the headway his administration had been making in its anti-crime campaign. However, he said the country’s notoriously slow judicial system has been moving “a little faster” of late, and cited the case of a car thief, Raymond Dominguez, who received a jail sentence one year and four months after his initial arrest. Some cases in the Philippines can take several years, or even longer. “We won't stop there. We are increasing the capability of our police. We are providing funds for rewards. But… we still have shortcomings, let’s admit it, in the case of Palparan, Ecleo, and former governor Reyes. But they will be arrested by authorities,” he said. Palparan has been charged with kidnapping and illegal detention and has been in hiding since December of last year. Reyes went into hiding after an arrest warrant was issued for him in April for the murder of radio commentator and environmentalist Gerry Ortega. Ecleo, who was recently found guilty of murdering his wife in 2002, is also in hiding. Aquino also said he had asked relevant authorities to neutralize private armies so that they cannot be used in the 2013 elections. “This early, [I want] them to feel that they cannot move freely,” he said. Related reports: No need for peace summit to curb crime Policeman-priest backs crime crackdown

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