MANILA is undergoing a furious public backlash against deteriorating law and order. Several hundred people gathered at the Philippine International Convention Centre yesterday to protest against a record number of crimes, including murders and kidnap, this year. The protesters hit out at President Fidel Ramos for failing to check lawlessness, saying the country would never advance while its people lived in fear of criminals. 'We rank third among the most dangerous countries in the world after Colombia and Russia,' Professor Teresita Ang See told 200 people in front of the offices of the Presidential Anti-Crime Commission, formed by Mr Ramos in 1992. 'In 1992 many Filipinos voted for Fidel Ramos as President thinking that as a former military man, a former chief of the constabulary and defence minister, he would address the establishment of law and order as a basis for the economic growth which he country was aspiring for,' said Professor See. 'Today, three years later, we are utterly disillusioned. There is lawlessness in the land. Criminals commit crimes in broad daylight and in the most brazen manner and get away with it all too easily, with the police either looking on helplessly, turning a blind eye, or acting as willing accomplices to these criminal elements. 'We call for a continuing purge of the Philippine National Police and a strengthening of the judiciary. 'Hoodlums in uniforms and hoodlums in robes must be weeded out of these institutions and immediate steps must be taken to make these institutions work with efficiency and speed,' she said. Filipina-Chinese Senator Nikki Coseteng said the crime wave was underpinned by corrupt policemen and justice officials. 'We have had to resort to this public protest because once you have lost faith in the public law enforcement officials there is no-one else you can turn to but the people,' she said. The recently retired head of the Western Police District homicide squad, Inspector Pedro Angulo, said there was at least one murder a day in Manila, rising to about six a day during summer and holiday seasons. Other guest speakers included former presidential palace press secretary Teodoro Benigno. The veteran columnist and broadcaster was recently held hostage at his Manila home. The Chinatown-based Citizens' Action Against Crime and the Movement for the Restoration of Peace and Order said there had been 140 kidnaps so far this year, 30 banks were raided and more than 1,200 cars stolen from city streets. They said 41 Filipino-Chinese had been killed by kidnappers since the two groups started keeping official records in the wake of the crossfire killing of 15-year-old Charlene Mayne Sy on January 7, 1993.