Organized crime is a problem too, as is political corruption.
The unease about crime in Manila and whether the government can get a handle on it comes ahead of congressional and provincial elections in May. Philippine elections are usually passionate events that are marred by violence. Authorities have declared a gun ban and set up checkpoints to confiscate weapons carried in public.
"A growing crime rate is the worry of everybody, election period or not," said Commission on Elections Chairman Sixto Brillantes.
The country's top policeman, Purisima, who took charge of the 148,000-strong police force just more than a month ago, said among the options considered were daytime checkpoints and sharing police radio frequencies with private security guards and traffic authorities to speed up police response times. At the same time, daytime checkpoints could slow already notoriously sluggish traffic, he said.
He ordered security guards in malls to carry weapons and get better training, to avoid being "sitting ducks" for armed robbers.
Afuang, the insurance company manager, said she didn't think security checks for weapons at malls were anything more than cursory inspections.
"I have never seen anyone being told to step aside" for closer scrutiny, she said. "You feel afraid because these things are happening close to you. Do you just go home and stay at home?"
Associated Press writer Oliver Teves contributed to this report.
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