Palace defends use of last year’s crime stats in SONA

TO MY BOSSES: “This is not my SONA. This is the SONA of the Filipino nation. You are the wellspring of change. It’s possible. It is a great time to be Filipino.”

When is it all right to use different sets of figures to make your point?

Apparently, when the figures come from Malacañang.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte on Tuesday defended President Benigno Aquino’s use of last year’s statistics instead of this year’s when he reported on the crime situation in the country in his State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday.

Mr. Aquino said crime was in decline as shown by a decrease in the number of criminal incidents between 2009 and 2011. In 2009, 500,000 crime incidents were reported but this went down by more than half last year when 246,958 crimes were reported, he said.

But just last week, the Philippine National Police (PNP) reported that crime in the National Capital Region had increased by 36 percent in the first six months of the year. There were 29,231 crime incidents reported from January to June compared to 18,672 reported in the same period last year, it said.

At a press briefing, Valte said Mr. Aquino did not mention the crime volume in the first half of this year because the data was still “incomplete,” compared to the full-year statistics the President did mention in his Sona, that is from 2009 to 2011.

“The President was just trying to show the general downtrend of the crime rate, especially in particular areas,” Valte said.

While she acknowledged the crime rate in the NCR had gone up, she insisted that “as a whole, the crime situation is still down.”

“What we are saying is that there cannot be an apples-to-apples comparison if you use the full data of 2009, 2010 and 2011 and the 2012 data is not complete,” she said.

Why then did the President use data from the first half of the year when he reported on the positive economic outlook of the country, Valte was asked. She replied by saying there was no intent by the Palace or Mr. Aquino to put a spin or slant on the economic situation.

“The President was very categorical, very clear on the periods covered by what he was saying,” she said.

Asked how the Palace could use economic figures from June this year and not use figures for crime for the same period in the Sona, Valte said: “It depends on what you are looking at.”

“What we wanted to do here was highlight the good things that happened in the past year but this does not mean that we would ignore the areas that need improvement,” she said in Filipino.

Asked if the President was aware of the police statistics for the first half of the year, Valte said she assumed the leadership of the PNP had informed him about it.

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