VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Is Davao City ‘relatively safe’?

Davao City is President Rodrigo Duterte’s model when it comes to peace and order.

While he admits it is no paradise and has its own “little share of everything”– drugs and killings included — Duterte said the city is relatively safe, even for an evening stroll. And he says there are no “holduppers” in the city.


Addressing the General Assembly of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines on March 14, Davao City’s former mayor said:

“But you have the corresponding duty to keep your city, at least, clean. Magpunta nga kayo ng Davao minsan, doon kayo mag-next ano (Go to Davao, go there for your next…) And it’s relatively safe. Ngayon, ‘yung bomba, meron ‘yun. At sinabi ko (Now, the bomb, it’s there. And I said), if you have been to Davao and you saw the cameras operating— iyong nagbomba sa (those who bombed the)— They are all accounted for. You should go to Davao and study the— almost about 10 major crimes. ‘Pag na-tag kita doon, ‘yun na (If I get to tag you, that’s it).”

(Source: RTVMalacañang, Duterte’s speech at the 1st General Assembly of League of Municipalities of the Philippines, Manila Hotel, March 14, 2017, watch from 1:00:16 to 1:00:55)

Earlier, on Feb. 8, in a speech during the National Housing Authority Summit, he said:

“Look at Davao, pumunta kayo ng Davao. Nakapunta naman kayo ng Davao. Makapasyal kayo, malinis, walang pulis humihingi, walang holdupper. Patay lahat. O ‘di mas mabuti (Look at Davao, go there. You’ve been to Davao. You can have a stroll. It’s clean. No police are on the take, there are no robbers. They’re dead. That’s better).”

(Source: RTVMalacañang, Duterte’s speech during the National Housing Authority Summit: Dialogue with Partner Communities, Diliman, Quezon City, Feb. 8, 2017, watch from 28:26 to 28:43)

Is Davao City ‘relatively safe’?


Davao City is the fourth city with the highest number of index crimes, after Quezon City, Manila and Cebu City, based on data from the Philippine National Police.

In a list of 15 cities which are all highly urbanized cities save for Naga City, Davao City accounted for almost a tenth of the total number of index crimes from 2010 to 2015.

There are 145 cities in the country as of March 31, 2017, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority show.

Index crimes are crimes that are serious in nature and occur with enough frequency and regularity that they can serve as a measurement of the crime situation in the country.

These consist of murder, homicide, serious and less serious physical injury, carnapping, cattle rustling, robbery, theft and rape.

Of the 15 cities, Davao City has the most number of murder incidents, with 17.2 percent of the 6,010 total.

The city ranked third in homicide, next to Quezon City and Manila.

Even as Duterte says there are no “holduppers” in Davao, the city ranked fourth in the number of robbery cases among the cities.

It also ranked fourth in physical injury; fifth in theft; and ninth in carnapping.

Click on the map to see the rank of each city per type of index crime.

Meanwhile, the number of index and non-index crimes committed in the city in the past four years exhibited a downward trend.

Data show the volume of index crimes in Davao City decreased by 64.7 percent from 2013 to 2015.

Within the same period however, the number of murder incidents in the city rose by 39.5 percent and the number of rape incidents by 23.4 percent.

On the other hand, the number of physical injuries declined by 80 percent. Incidents of robbery decreased by 63.5 percent and and theft by 59.1 percent.


Philippine National Police, Quick Look Crime Environment Report, National Level and Davao City, data as of February 20, 2017

Revised Penal Code of the Philippines

Top 15 Highest Number of Index Crimes

Letter of Instructions 02/09 Unit Crime Periodic Report (UCPER)

Crime Statistics at a Glance

Philippine Statistics Authority, Philippine Standard Geographic Code (PSGC)