By Tara Yap 

THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will join the police in hunting members of the Basag Kotse Gang.

Major Lowen Gil Marquez, regional chief of the AFP Civil Relations Service, told The Daily Guardian that the AFP is currently conducting independent investigation on car robberies in Iloilo City.

“Our mission is to find out who is behind this Basag Kotse gang. In my opinion, members of Basag Kotse are from influential and prominent families of Iloilo City,” Marquez said.

Marquez, who refused to divulge names, said these Basag Kotse members have two modes of operation.

One is the use of high-end vehicles, which the syndicate parks beside their target vehicles.  Marquez said the use of high-end vehicles erases suspicion among innocent car owners that their vehicles will be looted.

Car thieves also use street kids in their operations. Marquez said street kids are told to throw stones or kick the car to find out if it has an alarm. 

Marquez said car owners and roving security guards will not mind street children who play near vehicles.

 “They use tactics that do not show any malice or raise suspicions,” Marquez added.

Marquez said the AFP, through the Bantay Bayan Foundation, will help the police.

Bantay Bayan volunteers also augment the PNP, but Marquez has directed its members to continue with intelligence operations.

Marquez said that once there is enough evidence, he will present it to the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI 6).

Marquez said the AFP is doing its share to solve the series of car lootings that is affecting the image of Iloilo City as business-friendly and peaceful city.

“Basag Kotse is very bad for the city.  It is driving investors and tourists away,” Marquez said.

However, Marquez clarified that they are only on a supporting role.

Meanwhile, Mayor Jerry Treñas met with ICPO director Sr./Supt. Melvin Moncal and the Iloilo City Peace and Order Council (ICPOC) yesterday.

Treñas urged establishments to closely coordinate with its security personnel and the police.  He also urged car owners to remain vigilant.