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Public losing confidence on city cops over Basag Kotse gang

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Police Regional Office (PRO-6) can overhaul the entire Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) if the City Hall wants it.

C/Supt. Isagani R. Cuevas, PRO-6 director, said the Regional Mobile Group (RMG) in Negros Occidental has around 1,000 members who can be deployed to Iloilo City.

PRO-6 also has enough junior police commissioned officers (inspectors to chief inspectors) who can take over the 6 district police stations in the metropolis.

Calls for the revamp of the 500-strong ICPO headed by S/Supt. Melvin Mongcal echo as the city cops remain helpless in curbing the Basag Kotse gang preying on car owners in the city.

As of latest count, car thieves have already victimized 31 cars since February this year.

The latest Basag Kotse victim was an engineer who lost around P300,000 worth of valuables to suspects who smashed the glass window of his car parked inside a mall in Mandurriao district.

Cuevas said 500 RMG officers who finished their training can be readily deployed to Iloilo City.

Some of the RMG members served for 6 months in Jolo, Sulu at the height of the kidnapping of three Red Cross workers.

But Cuevas said it is the Iloilo City government that must request for the revamp of the entire ICPO force.

“Mayor Jerry Treñas can request for the relief of the entire force. The request must include an assessment to back up the request. We have to follow some rules and regulations particularly on the assignment and transfer of personnel as local officials have operational and administrative control over the police,” Cuevas said.

What will happen to the old ICPO force if the revamp happens?

Cuevas said they might be sent for retraining at the RMG headquarters as part of their thrust to reorient PNP officers on their work.

Despite the possible changes in his command, Mongcal still has the support of the PRO-6.

“We will still support S/Supt. Mongcal in everything he will do. That is our work here. We will give him all the resources he wants and all he has to do is check on his personnel to make sure that they execute their mission,” he added.

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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE former village chief accused of being part of the Bukas Kotse gang posted bail for his temporary liberty.

Sergio Dava, former punong barangay of Zaragoza, Bugasong, Antique, posted bail after he was charged with robbery in IS Number VI-10-INV-095-606 dated October 24, 2009.

Dava was arrested October 22 for allegedly robbing the car of Ava Delgado inside the Central Philippine University (CPU) in Jaro, Iloilo City.

Dava quit his post as barangay captain for alleged malversation of public funds.

S/Supt. Melvin Mongcal, Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) director, warned the public to be wary of Dava now that he is out of detention.

“The public, particularly car owners, are advised not to leave valuables inside their parked vehicles such as laptops, cellphones, big amounts of cash and the like as these attract robbers,” Mongcal said.

Mongcal said leaflets with tips on “How not to fall victims to Basag Kotse” were distributed to the media and to the public.  

The Bukas Kotse gang has victimized 28 cars since February 2009.

Meanwhile, the LaPaz police headed by S/Insp. Alexander Rosales nabbed one of the most wanted persons in the district.

A team of LaPaz police led by SPO2 Reynaldo Tanchinco arrested the person of Anthony Porto, 34, of Brgy Aguinaldo Monday morning.

Porto has a pending arrest warrant for violation of Republic Act 9165 (Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002).

Judge Victor Gelvezon of the Regional Trial Court Branch 36 issued the warrant on Porto.

According to Rosales, Porto is the 5th most wanted person in LaPaz district.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ARE car robbers smarter than Iloilo City cops?

Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, said members of the Bukas Kotse Gang study their tactics reason why they elude arrest.

Cuevas said the gang, which is responsible for 28 car heists in the last eight months, does it homework and are always a step ahead of the police.

Cuevas said the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) should also adopt the same attitude to finally neutralize the group.

Cuevas has directed the ICPO to double its efforts against the Basag Kotse syndicate by gathering more intelligence information and pinpoint the identities of the suspects.

The PRO-6 also wants city cops to observe the 7-9-7 duty scheme instead of the three-day work, two-day off system.

The duty scheme, which Cuevas implemented in 2008, requires policemen in a station to render duties in three rotating shifts. The first shift starts at 7am to 5pm while second shift starts 9am to 7pm. The last shift is from 7pm until 7am of the following day.

Cuevas said the scheme ensures that policemen are present at the station and their assigned posts.

The ICPO cracked the whip on its personnel by reshuffling the chiefs of three police precincts starting Thursday.

After more than two years, C/Insp. Conrado Carganillo was transferred from the Iloilo City Proper police station to Mandurriao district.

C/Insp. Elizer Baclagon was moved from Mandurriao PNP to Arevalo district while C/Insp. Federico Silvestre III took over the Iloilo City proper police station.

The chiefs of police in Jaro, LaPaz and Molo will remain in their posts for the meantime.

S/Supt. Melvin Mongcal, ICPO director, gave an ultimatum to the Jaro and Iloilo City police stations to crack the three basag kotse incidents that happened last October 12-13, 2009.

Mongcal said they also organized the Task Group on Anti Theft and Robbery composed of Intelligence and Investigation and Detective Management Section (IDMS) personnel of ICPO.

The task group will focus on the gang and other robbery incidents in the city.

The ICPO also sought help from the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to track down the gang members.

Mongcal said they have noticed that suspects transfer to Bacolod City after operating in Iloilo.

But city police releases him

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A SUSPECTED car robber surrendered to the Iloilo City Proper police station after he was tagged in Bukas Kotse incident last Tuesday morning.

Francisco Tamayo of Brgy. Monica, Iloilo City Proper is one of the two suspects who allegedly smashed open the Isuzu Crosswind of Wilfredo Lim at Burgos Street in the City Proper district near the Social Security System office.

Lim lost more or less P100,000 worth of gift checks and P25,000 cash.

Chief Insp. Conrado Carganillo, Iloilo City Proper police chief, said Punong Barangay Lilliane Sorioso of Monica convinced Tamayo to surrender after a witness identified him as a suspect in the incident.

According to Carganillo, Tamayo was the person who asked helped from two charcoal haulers who were near the crime scene to push his stalled car near Plaza Libertad.

“Tamayo allegedly drew the haulers’ attention to Plaza Libertad so his cohort can break open Lim’s car and steal the bag containing the gift checks and cash. When his companion was finished with the heist, Tamayo told the haulers that his car was okay then picked up the other suspect,” Carganillo said in a press conference at the Iloilo City Hall.

Carganillos said Tamayo denied the allegations against him and has refused to speak to investigators.

Tamayo was released after questioning by authorities as he cannot be arrested under the “hot pursuit” rule as the incident happened two days ago.

The police also convinced the two charcoal haulers, who remain unidentified, to testify against Tamayo but they refused to cooperate.

SYNDICATE

Supt. Eugenio Espejo, Iloilo City Police Office OIC-director, said the car robbers who struck last Monday and Tuesday are “new faces.”

“We don’t have their photographs in our rogues’ gallery and they speak Tagalog, Waray and Cebuano which mean they are not from Iloilo,” Espejo said.

Three car heists happened around Iloilo City since Monday.

The first incident happened Monday evening outside a restaurant owned by the family of Mayor Jerry Treñas. Journalist Florence Hibionada and lawyer Joviel Edama lost two laptop computers and more or less P5,000 cash.

The second incident involved Lim’s car near SSS office.

The third incident happened outside a grocery store in Brgy. Quintin Salas, Jaro where businessman Margarito Parcon of Pototan lost P610,000 cash and a caliber .45 pistol with three magazines.

Espejo said the suspects may have passed by Iloilo to test their modus operandi and raise funds for their operations in Bacolod City which is celebrating the Masskara Festival.

Citing their previous investigations, Espejo said the Bukas Kotse syndicate operates in 10 teams composed of 2-3 persons per team.

Espejo said the suspects use three cars as surveillance, cover and getaway vehicles.

“We tried to trace the registration plates of the cars allegedly used by the syndicate but we encountered dead ends,” he added.

Espejo said they have information on the leader or leaders of the gang but he refused to give details for the meantime.

Acting Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog assured that the police are doing their job in tracking down the suspects who are tagged to 28 car robberies since February 2009.

Mabilog said the Bukas Kotse operation is not exclusive to Iloilo City “as it also happens in Bacolod, Cebu, Metro Manila and even other parts of the world.”

“These crimes could be happening because the city is developing. As we develop, we encounter many crimes that go along with progress. But the city government, the police and other law enforcement agencies are working together to solve this problem,” he added.

Police probes 3 separate car theft cases

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

AFTER more than a month of hiatus, the notorious Bukas Kotse gang struck again the past two days and victimized a lawyer, a journalist and two businessmen.

In less than 24 hours, the car thieves hauled a total of P640,000 cash, P100,000 worth of gift checks and undetermined amount of laptops and personal items.

The first car theft happened around 10pm Monday evening in front of a restaurant owned by the family of Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas.

Atty. Joviel Edama, newshen Florence Hibionada, broadcaster Jun Capulot and Nereo Lujan and Mercedes Tabano were having dinner at Carlos Bakeshop in Brgy. Dungon A, Jaro, right beside the house of Treñas.

Edama parked his silver Isuzu APV in front of the restaurant and left their personal items in the van.

When the group returned to the parking area, Edama discovered that the right glass window of the van was already broken.

The suspects carted away two laptops owned by Edama and Hibionada and two bags with more or less P5,000 cash inside.

According initial police investigation, the lone security guard saw two men lurking in the parking area minutes before the theft was discovered.

The guard said one of the men even asked him to buy bottled water inside the restaurant. But the men disappeared when the guard returned with the bottled water. Apparently, the men diverted the guard’s attention from the parking.

Waiters inside the restaurant said they saw another man making a call in his cellphone. But the man quickly went out of the restaurant along with two persons who boarded an unidentified vehicle.

Hibionada told Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo that she also noticed the man on the cellphone but she did not suspect as she was busy with their discussion aside from being tired.

The bags containing documents and computer software installers were recovered behind a grocery store in Brgy. Tabuc Suba, Jaro around 11pm.

The second incident happened 10am Tuesday at Burgos Street, Iloilo City Proper near the Social Security System (SSS)-Iloilo office.

Wilfredo Lim, 61, of Alta Tierra Village, Jaro parked his gray Isuzu Crosswind near SSS.

When Lim returned, his car’s glass window was already smashed. The suspects carted away P100,000 worth of gift checks and P25,000 cash.

Witnesses said they saw a car with three persons parked beside Lim’s vehicle before the theft was discovered.

The person driving the car asked help from bystanders to push the car because its engine stalled.

The Iloilo City Proper police station said the car may have served as distraction or cover while one of the suspects smashed Lim’s vehicle.

At around 2pm Tuesday, businessman Margarito Parcon of Brgy. Rumbang, Pototan discovered that the left glass window of his Nissan Frontier Navarra was already smashed to bits.

Parcon parked his vehicle outside SM Savemore in Brgy. Quintin, Salas, Jaro to buy some items inside the store.

When he returned 10 minutes later, Parcon discovered that his clutch bag containing P610,000 cash and a caliber .45 pistol with three magazines was already gone.

Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, ordered the Iloilo City Police Office to beef up its efforts in neutralizing the Bukas Kotse gang.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Police Regional Office (PRO-6) will not re-install a special police task force that will oversee peace and order in the alleged drug haven in Iloilo City.

C/Supt. Isagani Cuevas, PRO-6 director, said there is no need to reinstall Task Force Bakhaw at Bry. Bakhaw, Mandurriao district even if it has become the purported sanctuary of criminals in the city.

Cuevas said the PNP and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) can handle the peace and order concerns of Bakhaw.

The PDEA has classified Bakhaw as one of the drug havens in the city because of the presence of an alleged illegal drugs syndicate in the village.

The village has also been the subject of numerous anti-drug raids by PDEA and PNP. The latest operation netted five suspects caught in the middle of a pot session inside a suspected drug den.

Arrested were Boyet Lupina, 40, owner of the raided house; Merwin Granzon, 30, of Brgy. Tabuc Suba, Jaro and three minors.

Cuevas said they have received reports that members of the Bukas Kotse gang and other thieves hide in Bakhaw.

Cuevas said these car thieves are also drug users, snatchers and robbers who shifted to another strategy to earn money.

During the recent PDEA raid, a pickup truck believed to be used in Bukas Kotse operations was spotted near the alleged drug den.

The owner of the pickup truck is a businesswoman who operates a restaurant in Iloilo City. She has denied allegations that her vehicle is being used by car thieves operating in the metropolis.

Task Force Bakhaw was first formed during the time of then Iloilo City Police Office director Norlito Bautista because of the rampant illegal drugs trade in the village.

The task force was later disbanded following allegations that its members were in cahoots with suspected drug peddlers.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)-Iloilo chapter accepted the apology issued by the region’s top police official over reports that a lawyer was coddling the Bukas Kotse gang.

In a statement emailed to The Daily Guardian, IBP-Iloilo President Marven B. Daquilanea praised C/Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, for clarifying the issue and apologizing for the report.

“In behalf of the IBP Iloilo Chapter I am expressing our gratitude and appreciation for the reported apology of PNP Regional Director Isagani Cuevas,” Daquilanea said.

Daquilanea said the IBP will continue to work with the PNP in law enforcement and administration of justice.

“We reiterate our admiration and support to the PNP leadership in Region 6, and we hope that we can work with them in their law enforcement efforts for the better and more effective administration of justice. Thank you, Chief Supt. Cuevas, for clarifying a sensitive matter which would have been unnecessarily derogatory to the members of our organization,” he added.

Daquilanea said he sent the statement after reading TDG’s report on Cuevas’s apology to the IBP, the tri-media and the business community Tuesday.

“I hope this will help us maintain our good relationship with…Director Cuevas,” Daquilanea said.

Cuevas made the apology following a news item quoting a PRO-6 official as saying that a lawyer, a mediaman and a businessman were protecting car thieves.

Cuevas said the information did not come from the PRO-6 but was a leading question asked to S/Supt. Edgar Layon, PRO-6 directorial staff, during a press conference.

The PRO-6 director said he apologized as the report may have offended some personalities.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Police Regional Office (PRO-6) apologized to persons and groups who were offended by an intelligence report blunder on the operations of the Bukas Kotse gang.

C/Supt. Isagani Cuevas, PRO-6 director, issued the apology to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)-Iloilo Chapter, the business community and the tri-media in a press conference in Camp Delgado Monday.

The apology stemmed from a news item which quoted S/Supt. Edgar Layon, PRO-6 chief directorial staff, as saying that a lawyer, a businessman and a journalist were coddling car thieves.

Cuevas issued the apology after learning that IBP-Iloilo headed by Atty. Marven Daquilanea is set to send a letter to PRO-6 protesting the statements attributed to Layon.

“I am sorry. We apologize to the IBP, the tri-media and other personalities who might have been offended by that information. If there were misquotations, we apologize to those we offended because we have no intention of hurting anybody,” Cuevas said.

Cuevas said the PRO-6 has no official report on the allegations of the news item that quoted Layon.

“That information was volunteered to S/Supt. Layon. We have no report on the involvement of those personalities mentioned,” he said.

Layon had said he was misquoted in the news item and he did not give the information to the media.

Layon said he was asked a leading question whether the aforementioned persons were in cahoots with the Bukas Kotse gang.

Daquilanea said the PRO-6 pronouncement was unfair since it did not identify the lawyer who is allegedly protecting car thieves.

Daquilanea said the information also undermines their profession which is to provide legal assistance to complainants and suspects alike.

IBP president cries foul on cop’s Bukas Kotse revelation

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)-Iloilo Chapter challenged the Police Regional Office (PRO-6) to substantiate claims that a lawyer is coddling members of the Bukas Kotse gang.

Atty. Marven Daquilanea, IBP-Iloilo president, said it is unfair for the police to declare that a lawyer is protecting the notorious car thieves.

“I felt slighted when I learned about the news. It is unfair for the police characterize one of our colleagues to be a coddler of that gang without identifying that lawyer and presenting any proof,” Daquilanea said in a phone interview.

Last Thursday, S/Supt. Edgar Layon, PRO-6 chief of directorial staff, was quoted in a radio and newspaper interview as saying that a lawyer, a mediaman and a businessman are protecting the Bukas Kotse gang.

Layon was quoted to have cited intelligence reports as basis for his statements although he did not identify the alleged coddlers.

Daquilanea said there are more than 870 IBP members in Iloilo whose reputations are at stake after the police tagged one of them as a protector of thieves.

“If they are not sure about the information, which is based on raw intelligence, they could have just said three persons are suspected of protecting the Bukas Kotse gang. The police should have not characterized these suspects without any solid proof. Even if this information is true, it is only lawyer against more than 870 others, so why drag the whole community in a state of suspense,” Daquilanea said.

Daquilanea said the word “coddler” also undermines their work as lawyers as they extend legal assistance to suspected criminals.

“Regardless the status of our clients, we are morally and legally obliged to help them even if they are guilty. The police should have qualified what kind of protection is being given by this lawyer to the Bukas Kotse gang – financial, material, whatever. If we give legal aid to persons supposed to be involved with this gang, are we technically in cahoots with them? That is unfair,” he added.

Daquilanea said the PRO-6 should gather proof and file cases against the alleged Bukas Kotse gang protectors “to clear the air of any doubts and rumors.”

“If they have proof, they should file cases and arrest these persons. If they don’t have any evidence, they’d better keep their silence until they are certain with their pronouncements. If we are just out to embarrass or ridicule other people sans any proof, we might as well shut up,” Daquilanea said.

Lea Lara, Iloilo Business Club (IBC) executive director, said they are also troubled by the information that filtered out from PRO-6.

“It’s bad for business, especially us local investors. We are asking the authorities to prosecute and identify these persons if they are really involved to clear things up. We are very much affected by this news,” Lara said.

MISQUOTED

Layon yesterday said he was misquoted in the radio and newspaper items. He said the interviewees asked a leading question if the aforementioned persons are protecting car thieves.

“I answered maybe but the information did not come directly from me. I did not confirm it,” Layon said.

Layon made the disclaimer after C/Supt. Isagani Cuevas, PRO-6 director, summoned him to clarify the report.

Cuevas said they have no information as regards the involvement of a lawyer, a businessman and a mediaman with the Bukas Kotse gang that has been plaguing the cities of Iloilo and Bacolod.

Layon said he will not anymore grant media interviews following the fiasco.

By Jeehan V. Fernandez

 

THE Iloilo City Government has set aside P30,000 reward for the speedy crackdown of the notorious Basag Kotse gang preying on parked private cars in the metropolis.

 

“I am offering a P30,000 reward for the arrest and filing of charges against the Basag Kotse gang. I am alarmed – I think the peace and order situation should be addressed,” said Mayor Jerry Treñas.

 

The mayor will call for an emergency meeting with the City Peace and Order Council (Cpoc) today to discuss strict security measures following the series of car thefts.

 

Three basag kotse incidents happened Wednesday night.

 

Treñas also ordered the deployment of city’s SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team to check and strengthen security especially in the nightlife havens of Diversion Road in Mandurriao district.

 

The robbers target parked cars by breaking the glass window. They then cart away valuables such as laptop computers, I-pod music players, cellphones, digital cameras and wrist watches.

 

Both Treñas and Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) director, Senior Supt. Melvin Mongcal advised car owners and drivers not to leave their valuables inside their vehicles.

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