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2 dead, 4 wounded in four heists

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

INCIDENTS of robbery-holdup in the city and province of Iloilo surged in the final days of 2009.

The latest victim was Alfonso Uy Jr., an egg trader from Passi City who was shot to death at Brgy. Agdahon Wednesday morning.

Uy and his three helpers were on their way back to Passi City proper from Calinog when 16 unidentified suspects onboard 8 motorcycles accosted them at Brgy. Agdahon.

The police said Erwin Alarba and John Paul Gardoce of the Alarba robbery-holdup group led the suspects. 

One of the suspects then shot Uy in the head resulting in his death. The robbers took away an estimated P20,000 cash and two cellphones from the victim.

On Monday morning, two unidentified suspects also tried to rob Gina Pedregoza also at Brgy. Agdahon. The suspects onboard a motorcycle blocked Pedregoza’s path and declared the heist. But Pedregoza fought off the robbers who shot her in her feet.

The suspects, who failed to get their targeted loot, fled from the crime scene.

Uriel Junio, a native of Misamiz Occidental and collector of a lending firm based in Negros Occidental died in the hands of a robber at Jaro, Iloilo City Monday evening.

Junio died of multiple stab wounds in his back and chest, according to the Jaro police.

Police investigation showed that Junio was driving his motorcycle near the Jaro small market at Brgy. Simon Ledesma when his unidentified back rider stabbed him repeatedly.

The suspect took away P30,000 and Junio’s two cellular phones. 

On December 26, a barangay captain from Bacolod City was wounded when robbers attacked his group in front of the Pototan public market.

Punong Barangay Marianito Yelo of Brgy. 35, Bacolod City and his helper Joselito Teñoso were having coffee at the market before buying pork.

Moments later, three persons approached Yelo and Teñoso and declared the heist. The suspects then shot Yelo’s shoulder and Teñoso’s body.

But the gunfire caught the attention of bystanders forcing the suspects to flee. Yelo’s P700,000 cash was intact.

S/Supt. Renato A. Gumban, Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) director, said they have identified the suspects in the heist, especially in the case of Alfonso Uy Jr.

Gumban said the robbers may have struck again after several months of hiatus to earn money for the holiday season.

Gov. Niel D. Tupas Sr. ordered the IPPO to arrest the suspects in the robberies before they could wreak more havoc.

But Tupas has yet to issue a statement on the involvement of his political ally, Banate Mayor Carlos Cabangal, in the shooting to death of businessman Carmelino Bachoco last December 25.

Bachoco’s cousin, Rally Beljera, tagged Cabangal’s son Peter Paul as the gunman in the incident.

Beljera said Mayor Cabangal was present when Peter Paul shot him and Bachoco some 200 meters from the town’s police station.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE sole witness tagged a town mayor’s son as the gunman who shot to death a rice trader in Banate, Iloilo last Christmas Day.

Rally Beljera, a cousin and worker of slain trader Carmelino Bachoco, pointed to Peter Paul Cabangal, a son of Banate Mayor Carlos Cabangal, as the one who shot them.

C/Insp. Herbert Ballego, Banate police chief, said Beljera told them what happened in the evening of December 25.

Ballego quoted Beljera as saying that he and Bachoco were on their way home when a motorcycle overtook and stopped several meters ahead.

Beljera claimed that he saw Carlo Cabangal, another son of Mayor Cabangal, driving the motorcycle while Peter Paul was the back rider.

The witness also saw Mayor Cabangal, his son Jerson Cabangal and several identified persons following behind them.

Beljera said he saw Peter Paul draw a gun and shoot Bachoco in the chest and head.

When the rice trader fell, Peter Paul allegedly trained his pistol at Beljera and fired.

Beljera said he quickly escaped when a bullet grazed his abdomen and left his cousin who was already on the ground.

Ballego said Beljera was not sure if there was another gunman or if Bachoco was able to retaliate at their attackers.

Bachoco died of multiple gunshot wounds in his body from what is believed to be two gun calibers, according to the autopsy report of the PNP Criminal Laboratory.

The autopsy report said Bachoco were wounded by bullets compatible with a caliber .45 ammunition and a lower caliber gun.

Mayor Cabangal and Jerson Cabangal were also wounded in the incident. Peter Paul remains at-large, the Banate police said.

The police recovered empty shells of caliber .45 bullets, a caliber .45 pistol near Bachoco’s body and a magazine inside the victim’s pocket.

S/Supt. Renato A. Gumban, Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) director, said they are awaiting Beljera’s official statement before they could file charges against the suspect or suspects.

“He has to subscribe to his affidavit so we can use this in the filing of charges,” Gumban said.

An old grudge over the demolition of Bachoco’s business establishment is believed to be the motive behind the shooting incident.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is also conducting its own probe on the incident and summoned the police officers who responded to the incident.

The NBI is also looking into an altercation between Bachoco and Peter Paul last December 23.

2 guns used in rice trader’s slay

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

TWO different firearms may have been used in the shooting to death of a rice trader in Banate, Iloilo last Christmas Day, according to the PNP autopsy reports.

Dr. Owen Libaquin, PNP medico legal officer, said Carmelino Bachoco of Brgy. Talokgangan, Banate died of eight gunshot wounds in his body and head.

Based on sizes of the victim’s wounds, Libaquin surmised that Bachoco was shot with two different guns compatible with a caliber .45 pistol and a firearm of lower caliber.

The medico legal officer said the shooter or shooters were at an elevated position as the bullet wounds followed a downward direction.

Bachoco died of multiple gunshot wounds in his body while a bullet only grazed his head.

The police only recovered a caliber .45 pistol and 16 empty shells of caliber .45 bullets.

The main suspects in Bachoco’s death are Banate Mayor Carlos “Intsik” Cabangal and his sons Jerson and Peter Paul.

The shooting incident happened past 10pm of December 25 at the Banate town proper, some 200 meters from the police station.

According to police reports, Bachoco was on his way home on board the trisikad of his worker Rally Beljera when the Cabangals allegedly chased him.

The Cabangals claimed that Bachoco was first to draw his gun.

Mayor Cabangal and Jerson were wounded in their feet. How? The police are still looking.

Beljera, who was also wounded in the shooting, is considered a witness in the incident by the police.

S/Supt. Renato A. Gumban, Iloilo provincial police director, said Beljera has issued his statement on the incident.

“Once the witness is well, we can have him review his statement so he can subscribe and sign his affidavit,” Gumban said.

Bachoco reportedly had an axe to grind with Mayor Cabangal when the latter ordered the demolition of his store in Banate reclamation area.

The Cabangals cannot be reached for comments.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A MAYOR in the 4th congressional district is a suspect in the shooting to death of a rice trader in Banate, Iloilo on Christmas Day.

Banate Mayor Carlos “Intsik” Cabangal figured in a shooting incident which resulted in the death of Carmelino Bachoco of Brgy. Brgy. Talokgangan, Banate.

The incident happened past 10pm of December 25 some 200 meters away from the Banate police station.

According to reports from the Banate PNP, Bachoco and Cabangal both witnessed a Miss Gay competition at the town plaza before the incident.

Cabangal stayed in the kiosk of his cousin Edgar Omes while Bachoco and his worker Rally Beljera was at the kiosk of Nenita Basa near the police station.

At around 10pm, Bachoco set out to go home on board Beljera’s trisikad as the victim’s motorcycle conked out.

At that moment, Cabangal, who went to the town hall to check on a rumble involving several persons, and his sons Peter Paul and Jerson spotted Bachoco.

The Cabangals then chased the victim in an attempt to confront him about his “attitude” toward Peter Paul and Jerson several days before.

The mayor’s family claimed that Bachoco drew a gun as they chased him. Seconds later, gunfire erupted.

Bachoco died of multiple gunshot wounds in his body and head while Mayor Cabangal and son Jerson were wounded in there right feet.

The Cabangals are confined in an undisclosed hospital in Iloilo City.

A total of 16 empty shells of caliber .45 bullets and a caliber .45 pistol were recovered from the scene of the incident.

According to S/Insp. Herbert Ballego, Banate police chief, Bachoco has been taunting the sons of Cabangal days before the shooting incident.

Bachoco also reportedly had an axe to grind with Cabangal after the latter ordered the demolition of his store in the town’s reclamation area.

Ballego said they consider Cabangal a suspect in the incident. He said it remains unclear who fired the first shot.

“Mayor Cabangal said he is willing to undergo paraffin test,” Ballego said.

Cabangal is also facing charges for grave coercion and grave threats filed by his cousin, Engr. Noel Bagsit.

S/Supt. Renato Gumban, Iloilo provincial police director, said they have identified who shot Bachoco.

Gumban said Beljera will also issue his statement regarding the incident today.

“Beljera witnessed the incident. Let’s wait for his statement because he has his own lawyer. We might file charges against the suspects today,” Gumban added.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A TOTAL of 16 Iloilo towns and a component city are included in the “hotspot” list of the Police Regional Office (PRO-6).

Supt. Ranulfo Demiar, PRO-6 regional public information officer, said the towns are included in their election watchlist of areas of concern (EWAC) which is being validated by the regional command.

The areas included in the EWAC are classified in two categories: Category 1 for places with high possibility of election-related violent incidents (ERVI) is high while Category 2 areas have history of ERVIs, intense political rivalries and active movement of armed rebels.

In Iloilo, Category 1 areas include Anilao, Dueñas, Estancia, Maasin, Passi City, San Enrique and Tigbauan.

The towns of Bingawan, Calinog, Guimbal, Igbaras, Lambunao, Leon, Miag-ao, San Joaquin, and Tubungan are classified as Category 2 areas.

At total of 48 towns and cities in Western Visayas are included in the PRO-6’s EWAC.

Demiar said some of the areas might be removed from the list depending on the outcome of their validation.

Last Monday, former Estancia mayor Rene Cordero went to the office of PRO-6 Director Isagai R. Cuevas to seek assistance against alleged harassment by his rival, incumbent Mayor Restituto Mosqueda.

Cordero is seeking to recapture the mayorship of Estancia in the May 2010 elections.

Cuevas said he advised Cordero to gather evidence to prove his claims so that the PRO-6 can assess his request.

“They have to show proof before we ca provide security personnel to him,” Cuevas said.

Meanwhile, Presidential Assistant Raul Banias warned politicians against hiring members of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB) in partisan political activities.

Banias said RPA-ABB members who work as bodyguards of politicians are liable for violating the peace agreement between the Philippine government and the rebel group.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

TWO members of the Mandurriao police station were relieved for failure to arrest a scion of a wealthy business family who allegedly pointed a gun at a customer of a popular night spot in Iloilo City Thursday.

Supt. Eugenio Espejo, Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) officer-in-charge, said he ordered the relief of SPO3 Enrico Sontillanosa and PO3 Antonio Salazar from Mandurriao PNP effective Thursday afternoon.

Sontillanosa and Salazar responded to the commotion at SandPipers KTV bar after businessman Kenneth Chua allegedly pointed a gun at a classmate of lawyer Plaridel Nava 3am Thursday.

C/Insp. Conrado Carganillo, Mandurriao police chief, immediately implemented Espejo’s order but he refused to comment on the issue for the meantime.

Espejo said he has ordered an investigation into the incident and why Sontillanosa and Salazar failed to arrest Chua.

The two cops said the security guards and manager of the KTV bar stalled their entry in VIP Room No. 2 where the altercation happened.

But Atty. Nava claimed that the two cops went inside the KTV room and talked to Chua.

“After a while, I saw the smiling Chua walk down the stairs, boarded his car with his bodyguard and drove away. The police came out later,” Nava said.

The police later arrested the KTV manager and guard for alleged obstruction of justice and detained them in the police station. But the investigator later ruled that they did not obstruct the police.

Nava said he will file criminal charges against Chua for illegal possession of firearms, grave oral defamation and grave threats.

“Many of our common friends have been asking me to settle the case with him. But we have to do something about this so that Kenneth will change his ways. Maybe if we see that he has changed for good, we will withdraw the charges,” Nava added.

The lawyer said he is certain that there was a conspiracy between the two Mandurriao police and a colonel who called Chua after the incident so that the suspect can escape.

Meanwhile, the lawyer of Sandpipers will also sue Sontillanosa and Salazar for illegal detention.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A BUSINESSMAN is under fire for allegedly brandishing a gun inside a night spot in Mandurriao, Iloilo City Wednesday evening.

Lawyer Plaridel Nava accused his former client, Kenneth Chua, of pointing a caliber .380 to one of his classmates inside a VIP room of Sandpipers KTV Bar at Brgy. Bolilao, Mandurriao.

Chua’s family owns Iloilo Society Commercial which is a popular retail chain of assorted merchandise in Iloilo.

Nava said their high school class was holding a Christmas party inside Sandpipers when the incident happened.

A classmate of Nava, who knows Chua, invited the businessman inside the VIP room to join the bash.

Nava said he also personally knows Chua as he represented the latter in a gun-firing incident in Arevalo district several years back.

One of Nava’s classmates, a certain Roberto Celiz, was discussing his experiences in the US when Chua suddenly rose from his seat, drew the revolver and pointed it to Celiz.

Another classmate of Nava told Chua to lower his gun but the latter allegedly punched him.

Nava later intervened and told the businessman to calm down and put away his gun.

Chua obliged but it did not prevent Nava from calling the police for assistance.

Two Mandurriao policemen – SPO3 Enrico Sontillanosa and PO3 Antonio Salazar – went to the KTV bar in response to the call up.

The two cops claimed that the bar’s management and security personnel prevented them from proceeding to the room where the altercation happened.

Worse, the police officers said, the manager pointed them to the wrong room. When they reached the scene of the incident, Chua was nowhere to be found.

The police officers brought the manager and security guards to the Mandurriao police station for alleged obstruction of justice. But they were later released after the investigator found no ground to sue them.

Nava said the bar’s management may have delayed the entry of the police to give Chua time to sneak out of the night spot.

He also complained that the police did not arrest and detain the manager and security guards for obstruction of justice.

Based on records of the Firearms Explosives Security Agency and Guards Supervision (FESAGS) Office, Chua previously owned an caliber .9mm machine pistol, a caliber .9mm pistol and a caliber .45 pistol, all of which have expired permits.

The FESAGS record did not indicate that Chua owned a caliber .380 revolver.

Chua and the management of Sandpipers are not available for comments.

Chua and PO3 George Sermonia of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group were also involved in the mauling of three waiters of Luis Linaga-an, a popular restaurant in Iloilo City, two weeks ago.

The businessman reportedly settled the case with the waiters while Sermonia is under investigation by the Police Regional Office (PRO-6).

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ILLEGAL drug operations may have shifted to Iloilo province following the decline and operations and apprehensions of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Iloilo City.

Paul Ledesma, officer-in-charge of PDEA-6 office, said they reported fewer anti-drug operations and arrests in Iloilo City because of the declining illegal drugs trade in the metropolis.

As of November this year, PDEA mounted 67 anti-drug operations in Iloilo City compared to 113 in 2008.

The number of arrested drug pushers and users also declined to 82 this year from 322 in 2008.

Ledesma said drug syndicates may have shifted their operations to Iloilo province following the series of anti-drug operations in the metropolis.

“The situation in the city became too hot for these syndicates to handle and may have transferred to other places. We continue to monitor their activities wherever they transfer their operations,” Ledesma said.

The PDEA also noticed increased sales of marijuana due to increasing prices of shabu.

Ledesma said the shabu price hike is a result of their operations against the entry of shabu in Western Visayas.

Shabu is now being sold at P10,000 per gram, lower than last year’s price of P15,000 per gram. Marijuana is sold for P40-45 per gram.

Ledesma said they have neutralized 11 of 23 drug dens in the region aside from arresting members of five drug syndicates in Western Visayas.

The PDEA chief said they will intensify their operations to prevent drugs from flooding the region during Christmas season and Dinagyang and Ati-Atihan festivals.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Supreme Court must provide closure to the declaration of martial law in Maguindanao even if the government has military rule in the province Saturday evening.

In an interview with Serbisyo Publiko hosted by Iloilo City Councilor Perla Zulueta over Sky Cable Sunday, Atty. Hans Sayno, former Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)-Iloilo president, said the high tribunal should decide whether Proclamation No. 1959, which imposed martial law on Maguindanao, was constitutional or not.

“The Supreme Court should discuss and decide the petitions filed against the declaration of marital law in Maguindanao to set the right precedent. If the SC does not act on these, the present administration and future presidents will be tempted to use martial law in any place of the country,” Sayno said.

Proclamation No. 1959 put Maguindanao under martial law last December 5 following the gruesome massacre of more than 50 persons, including the kin of a political clan and Mindanao journalists.

Military and police officials claimed that a rebellion was brewing after the arrest of key members of the Ampatuan clan who are the suspects in the massacre.

Seven petitions from various individuals and groups were filed with the SC questioning the constitutionality of martial law in Maguindanao.

President Gloria Arroyo lifted martial law in the province effective 9pm Saturday after the PNP and AFP said that they have neutralized armed groups planning to rebel against the government.

But Maguindanao remains under a state of emergency, according to Malacañang officials.

Sayno said the SC can opt not to act on the petition by ruling that the issue has become “moot and academic” with the lifting of martial law in Maguindanao.

According to the Supreme Court in Mitre v. Tan Torres, “a case is considered as presenting a moot question when a judgment thereon cannot have any practical legal effect, or in the nature of things, cannot be enforced.”

Sayno said that while the SC cannot be compelled to rule on the anti-martial law petitions, proper closure through the high tribunal’s decision must be made to avoid abuse of the martial law edict.

“The petitions can be dismissed for being moot and academic. But on issues of constitutional magnitude, like the declaration of the state of emergency, the SC can decide and put the issue to rest,” he added.

Sayno cited the declaration of a state of emergency on February 24, 2006, by the virtue of Proclamation No. 1017 after the government claimed that it foiled an alleged coup d’état attempt by Magdalo soldiers against the Arroyo administration.

The President lifted the state of emergency on March 3, 2006 by the virtue of Proclamation No. 1021.

Sayno said the SC rendered a decision on Proclamation No. 1017 and set the basis for the imposition of the policy on May 6, 2006.

In an 11-3 decision, the high court upheld President Arroyo’s right to declare a state of emergency, but said she exceeded her authority by allowing the military to make warrant-less arrests and raid media outlets.

Meanwhile, House Majority Floor Leader Arthur D. Defensor Sr. said Congress will continue the joint session on the imposition of martial law in Maguindanao today.

Defensor said the session must be adjourned properly now that the government has lifted Proclamation No. 1959.

The Senate and the House of Representatives went on joint session Thursday to hear the executive department’s justification for the declaration of martial law and decide whether or not to revoke military rule in Maguindanao.

A total of 40 lawmakers were scheduled to grill government officials today over the martial law declaration.

Defensor said he had a hunch that martial law will be lifted after the PNP and AFP arrested the main suspects in the Maguindanao massacre and recovered caches of firearms and ammunitions believed to be owned by the Ampatuan clan.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

MARTIAL law in Maguindanao may have been an experiment on the part of the national government to test the political waters, a lawyer said.

Atty. Hans Sayno said over cable TV program Serbisyo Publiko hosted by Councilor Perla Zulueta Sunday that the government may have had other objectives in declaring martial law aside from quelling a supposed rebellion looming in Maguindanao.

He said the martial law edict was also meant to gauge the actual application of martial law and the people’s reaction to military rule.

Also, martial law is also a way to measure the loyalty of the allies of President Gloria Arroyo in Congress en route to the 2010 elections.

“Even the withdrawal of martial law could be a strategy to show that Malacañang is listening to the people,” Sayno said.

The imposition of martial law in Maguindanao also spurred constitutional issues which could be remedied either by the Supreme Court and charter change which the Arroyo administration is pushing.

One amendment Sayno cited is Congress’ manner of voting on constitutional issues such as martial law imposition.

The 1986 Constitution provides that Congress (the House of Representatives and the Senate), voting jointly, may revoke the martial law proclamation with a simple majority vote.

The House has 268 members while there are only 24 senators. At least 147 votes are needed to revoke martial law edicts.

Sayno said the “voting jointly” provision puts the Senate on unequal footing in debates on constitutional issues even if both legislative chambers are considered co-equals. 

“The ratio between the senators and congressmen is 1:11 approximately. A senator must convince 11 congressmen to join their cause. The voting jointly provision is unfair to the senators because they will always be outnumbered by the congressmen. This provision should be scrapped and replaced with ‘Congress voting separately’ so that the voices of each chamber will be clearly heard,” he added.

On the part of the SC, Sayno said it should rule whether the government can declare martial rule on a per province basis.

“This might be repeated so the SC should rule to it will not be repeated. The situation was a trial-and-error, an experiment with potential damage to the country,” he said.

Sayno said the government should have not declared martial law in order to go after the Ampatuan clan who are the suspects in the Maguindanao massacre.

“The massacre did not threaten the republic, it only tarnished its image. Ordinary government law enforcement powers were sufficient to go after the suspects. The PNP and the AFP can take care of the situation. What happened was an ordinary crime but considered savage in our modern time,” Sayno added.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE imposition of martial law in Maguindanao province met mixed reactions as to its necessity following the gruesome Ampatuan massacre.

While he declined to comment on the constitutionality of Proclamation No. 1959, House Majority Arthur D. Defensor Sr. said there is no need to fear martial rule will be imposed in the rest of the country.

Defensor said Congress will study the legality of martial law in Maguindanao once President Gloria Arroyo submits her report on the measure to lawmakers.

Defensor said there are factual basis for declaring martial rule in Maguindanao but he could not comment on the issue as he has not seen the situation in that province.

“The PNP and the AFP have the authority to comment on the situation because they are the ones on the ground,” he added.

Under the 1986 Constitution, the President is required to report to Congress within 48 hours why martial law was declared.

The Senate and House of Representatives, in joint session, will then approve or disapprove the declaration of martial law which should only last for 60 days. It can only be extended upon approval of Congress.

Former defense secretary and Lakas-Kampi presidential bet Gilbert Teodoro said he will wait for President Arroyo’s report to Congress as to what prompted the government to declare Martial Law.

Teodoro said the constitutionality of the measure can only be determined after the President has made a complete report to lawmakers.

As regards possible violation of human rights in Maguindanao in the duration of martial law, Teodoro said human rights were already violated when 57 people, mostly women and journalists, were massacred in Ampatuan town.

“The massacre is the grossest violation of human rights that we have seen in recent history. I’m really concerned about human rights but not necessarily in martial law but what happened in the massacre,” he added.

Teodoro also concurred with the planned investigation on government ammunitions found in the armory of the Ampatuan clan members’ homes.

He said he has monitored cases of ammunition pilferages in the AFP when he was still defense secretary “but not of this magnitude where boxes of bullets enough to arm an Army brigade were found in private persons’ ownership.”

Teodoro arrived in Iloilo City Sunday morning to grace the birthday celebrations of Sec. Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. and his son, Iloilo City Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr. at Jaro plaza.

Lawyer Adel Tamano, a Muslim Maranao who is seeking a Senate seat under the Nacionalista Party (NP), branded as an “outrage” the decision to put Maguindanao under martial law.

Tamano, who was in Iloilo City Sunday for a speaking engagement, said the lack of actual rebellion shows the illegality of Proclamation No. 1959.

“The Constitution is very clear that martial law can only be declared when there is actual rebellion or uprising, not an imminent or looming rebellion,” he said. 

He added that although the incident in Maguindanao will need speedy resolution, the current situation does not warrant the need for a martial rule.

“The Maguindanao massacre was an outrage but you do not solve it by committing an outrage on the rights of Mindanaoans, specifically those of Muslim Mindanao, by declaring unconstitutional martial law,” he added.

The martial law declaration in Maguindanao is also unfair to Mindanao residents who suffered during Martial Law imposed by the Marcos regime.

Tamano said Mindanao has suffered much when the whole country was placed under martial law in the ‘70s. Now that the same rule has been applied to Maguindanao, he said the people of the province will suffer the same fate.

“Majority of Maguindanaons who were the victims themselves of the warlords – who were created by this administration – will now have to suffer the yoke of martial law,” he added.

Tamano said the declaration of martial law might weaken the case against the Ampatuan clan who are accused of masterminding the massacre.

“If they charge the Ampatuans with rebellion, they can post bail because rebellion is bailable while murder is not,” he said.

Tamano said NP has a set of priority actions for the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao such as dismantling of private armies and elimination of warlords.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

MORE than 40 towns and cities in Western Visayas are considered probable political flashpoints as the May 2010 elections approach, according to the Police Regional Office (PRO-6).

Supt. Ranulfo Demiar, PRO-6 regional public information officer, said 48 areas in the region were listed as areas of election concern based on their data during the 2004 and 2007 elections.

Demiar said the PNP and the Philippine Army are still validating if some of the areas should be retained or scrapped from the election hotspot list.

Iloilo province has the most number of probable poll flashpoints with 16 towns, Negros Occidental – 10, Antique – 8, Aklan – 7, Capiz – 5 and Guimaras – 2.

A total of 25 probable hotspots are classified as Category 1 which means these areas where the possibility of election-related violent incidents (ERVI) is high.

Category 2 areas (areas with history of ERVIs, intense political rivalries and high probability of occurrence of ERVIs with participation of private armed groups and rebel groups) numbered 23.

ERVIs are incidents which could affect or disrupt the electoral proceedings in the area or create a form of political tension that could eventually upset the electoral process, not only in the site of the incident but also in the surrounding areas during election days.

Areas with very serious ERVIs can be put under the control of the Commission on Elections which means that the local police and even military forces in the area will under the poll body’s direction.

Demiar said the PRO-6 will come up with an official list of election flashpoints after the PNP and the AFP have finished the validation process.

In the 2007 elections, the towns of Estancia and Igbaras were considered election hot spots because of intense political rivalry and the presence of armed rebels.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

MISFITS in the PNP might be sent to replace cops that were relieved in the aftermath of the Maguindanao massacre in Mindanao, the Police Regional Office (PRO-6) said.

C/Supt. Isagani R. Cuevas, PRO-6 director, said cops in Western Visayas who misbehave might be sent to Maguindanao if they don’t reform their ways.

“They should not be hard headed and behave well for they might be chosen to serve in Maguindanao,” Cuevas said.

Cuevas said the PRO-6 is ready to send a team of police officers who will replace their colleagues who were sacked after 57 people were massacred in the heated political rivalry between the Ampatuan and Mangudadatu clans.

“If the headquarters requests that we send a team to Maguindanao, we have ready personnel to be dispatched in the area. But I hope that policemen in Western Visayas will not be chosen to replace the relieved officers,” Cuevas said, apparently concerned with the political tension in Maguindanao.

PNP Chief Jesus Verzosa ordered the relief of the entire Maguindanao Provincial Police Office (PPO) personnel to pave the way for an impartial investigation on the Maguindanao massacre.

According to C/Supt. Leonardo Espina, PNP spokesman, more or less 1,000 Maguindanao policemen would be replaced.

Some police officers in Maguindanao are believed involved in the massacre which also claimed the lives of 30 journalists.

 

Legaspino

Soroño
Giltendez

 

Grabador

Resureccion

5 members arrested

By Albert T. Mamora and Francis Allan L. Angelo

FIVE suspected members of the notorious Basag Kotse gang were apprehended in Guimbal, Iloilo after victimizing a businessman in San Jose, Antique Sunday afternoon.

Alvin Rodis Resurrecion, 34, of Brgy. Tuklong, Kawit, Cavite; Troy Lacre Giltendez, 33, of Brgy. Nueve de Febrero, Mandaluyong City; Giovanni Soroño Nuevas, 38, of Rosario Subd., Angono, Rizal; George Llorante Grabador, 45, of Kalayaan (V-Town), Angono, Rizal; and Edward Dimen Legaspino, 26, of Brgy., Tuklong, Kawit, Cavite were nabbed in a checkpoint mounted by the Guimbal PNP.

The five suspects allegedly ransacked the Nissan Patrol of an Antique-based businessman past 5pm Sunday near the tennis court of the EBJ Freedom Park in San Jose, Antique.

The victim, who requested anonymity, was playing tennis when the suspects allegedly smashed the left glass window of his car and carted away a bag containing P100,000 worth of checks and cash and P40,000 worth of jewelry and other personal items.

San Jose PNP commander, C/Insp. Gilbert T. Gorero, said several witnesses saw three persons milling around the victim’s car. One of the persons then smashed the glass window using his fist wrapped with a thick piece of cloth.

A witness also saw a white Mitsubishi Montero Sport parked beside the victim’s car. The suspects later fled onboard the Montero Sport with plate number NBI-262.

The San Jose police relayed a flash alarm to police stations in southern Iloilo to intercept the Montero Sport.

But the suspects managed to slip past the checkpoint of the Miag-ao police. A chase ensued until they were apprehended near the Guimbal Elementary School where police officers were already awaiting them.

C/Insp. Almaquer, Guimbal police commander, said they did not find the bag containing the loot.

“Maybe they threw the bag away while escaping from Antique,” Almaquer said.

The suspects were brought back to San Jose, Antique midnight of November 30 for investigation.

Witnesses identified three of the five suspects as the persons who actually smashed the victim’s car.

Nuevas was the alleged lookout behind the Nissan car while Legaspino manned the front portion of the vehicle.

Grabador allegedly smashed open the window and pulled the bag out of the car.

The suspects denied any participation in the car robbery saying they were on their way to Iloilo City to visit a relative of Legaspino. But they failed to identify the person they were supposed to visit.

The suspects also claimed to be natives of General Santos City in Mindanao but later moved to Luzon.

Legaspino said he is a seaman while Resurrecion said he is planning to work abroad soon.

The police found out that Giltendez was the group’s driver while Nuevas acted as back-up driver.

Nuevas, Resurrecion and Grabador further claimed that they were only accompanying Legaspino to Iloilo City. From there, they will proceed to General Santos City to spend  Christmas.

Legaspino and Giltendez said they were planning to proceed to Negros Occidental to visit some relatives whom they did not identify.

Based on the certificate of registration (CR No. 8381619-1 dated, April 1, 2009) recovered from the getaway car, the white Montero Sport is registered in the name of a certain Jose Alberto Hernandez Dilanco, of No. 4 Doña Rita Diaz Street, Phase 1, Fortunato Village in Sucat, Parañaque City.

The getaway car has a special commemorative plate of the 100th anniversary of the Freemasons’ Dapitan Lodge No. 21.

The police also recovered a receipt with Authorization No. 370, signed by Bro. Cesar Ortega, Dapitan Lodge 21 secretary 21. The receipt allowed Dilanco to use the commemorative plate with License No. 0370 and sticker issued on November 11, 2009.

Legaspino said they rented the Montero Sport from Red Wheel Rent-a-Car in Las Piñas City.

Legaspino did not provide the exact address of the car rental service. He said he was paying P3,500 for the car’s daily rent. He said he deposited P20,000 for the car and told the police that he will secure a fax copy of the rent contract if asked by police investigators.

The Bukas Kotse gang has been preying on car owners in Western Visayas, most of them in Iloilo City where more than 30 car robberies were reported to the police.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

MUSLIMS in Iloilo City do not tolerate violence and bloodshed similar to the Maguindanao massacre in Mindanao Island a week ago.

This was the reaction of the Muslim community in the city in an interview with weekly TV program Serbisyo Publiko hosted by Councilor by Perla S. Zulueta over Sky Cable Sunday.

Imam Sammy Hadjimanan, spokesman of the Iloilo Islam Community Association, said true believers of Islam do not tolerate the killing of women and children.

Hadjimanan said they condemn the massacre of more than 50 persons, mostly women relatives of a political leader in Maguindanao, allegedly perpetuated by a rival political clan.

“We are saddened by the incident. The Muslims do not harm women and children. The Muslim community prays for the victims and peace in Mindanao and we hope justice will be given to them,” Hadjimanan said.

Imam Abdul Nasser R. Langcao said Islam prohibits the murder of women and children.

“Women are respected and loved, not murdered. The children must be taken cared of. We condemn such acts. You are not a true Muslim if you do that,” Langcao said.

Langcao said killing is only justified in defense of religion or ancestral domain when a jihad or holy war is declared.

“But Muslims are peaceful and God-fearing people. We obey God’s command at all times,” Langcao added.

Hadjimanan said they are concerned with the wrong impression that the massacre might cause on Muslims in areas outside of Mindanao.

“We feel bad about what happened and we condemn such act. Some people might think that all Muslims are troublesome and cruel. But not all Muslims are like that,” Hadjimanan said.

Hadjimanan said the incident has a great impact on their community, especially discrimination by other people.

“We include the victims in our prayers five times a day. We hope that they will not discriminate or think that all Muslims are like those who committed the massacre,” he added.

There are around 1,000 Muslims in Iloilo City, most of them traders.

Comelec, PNP validating risk areas

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the PNP will start identifying so-called election hotspots in the region.

Atty. Dennis Ausan, Comelec director in Western Visayas, said the move is to prevent another poll-related incident similar to the Maguindanao massacre. As of yesterday, 52 persons were confirmed killed in the gruesome incident.

Ausan said the PNP is helping them validate the lists of possible election areas of concern in the region after these were submitted by provincial and city police offices in Western Visayas to the Police Regional Office (PRO-6).

C/Supt. Isagani Cuevas, PRO-6 director, said they will release the final list after they have studied and assessed the reports of their subordinate units.

The list of hotspots is normally made public during the start of the campaign season but the Comelec and the PNP might publicized it early after what happened in Maguindanao.

The election period officially starts January 10, 2010.

Election hotspots are identified in two categories: Category 1 pertains to areas where the possibility of election-related violent incidents (ERVI) is high; Category 2 areas have a history of ERVIs, intense political rivalries and high probability of occurrence of ERVIs with participation of private armed groups and rebel groups.

ERVIs are incidents which could affect or disrupt the electoral proceedings in the area or create a form of political tension that could eventually upset the electoral process, not only in the site of the incident but also in the surrounding areas during election days.

Aside from drawing up the election areas of concern, the PRO-6 is also keeping tabs of politicians who hire private armies and horde illegal firearms.

Cuevas also advised journalists who will cover areas with intense political rivalries to coordinate with the PNP so they can be provided protection.

“The police will be ready to provide them with security personnel if our media practitioners make the request,” Cuevas said.

At least 18 journalists were confirmed killed in the massacre allegedly perpetrated by the Ampatuan clan against members of the Mangudadatu family.

The journalists were supposed to cover the filing of the certificate of candidacy of Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu of Buluan, Maguindanao who will run for governor versus Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A MEMBER of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) was shot Tuesday evening in Jaro, Iloilo City.

PO3 Job J. Lujan, 36, of Sitio Little Janiuay, Brgy Tabuc-Suba was wounded in his nose after a gunman shot him with a caliber .38 revolver around 8:30pm the other day.

He was rushed to St. Paul’s Hospital for treatment.

Lujan was standing outside their house gate when he was shot. According to a son of the victim, Lujan was talking to three persons before the incident.

Lujan’s colleagues at the CIDG said the shooting may have something to do with their recent operation against an illegal video karera operator in the city.

Jaro police investigators recovered a live caliber .38 bullet from the crime scene.

Reports from the Iloilo City Police Office identified the gunman as a certain Rusty Jablo of Brgy. Cubay, Jaro.

S/Supt. Melvin Mongcal, ICPO director, ordered the Jaro police and the Iloilo City Mobile Group to chase and arrest Jablo.

MACHINE PISTOL RECOVERED

A BOUNCER of a popular nightspot in Iloilo City turned over a machine pistol to the Mandurrio police Tuesday afternoon.

Glen Erezuela, 28, bouncer of MO2 Ice Bar in Smallville complex called the Mandurriao police to report that an unidentified person left a firearm in his custody.

PO2 Ariel Eres of the Mandurriao PNP went to the area around 2:30pm in response to the call.

Eres then took custody of a caliber .9mm machine pistol with serial number 360495. The gun also bore the markings “Cobrayo, Macio RPB Engram .9mm Military Armament Corp. Marrieta GA  30082 USA.”

The gun, which will be submitted to the Crime Laboratory for ballistic tests, has a steel magazine with Cobrayo marking and seven live bullets.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

MEDIA groups and local officials expressed indignation over the November 23 Maguindanao massacre of more than 30 persons including 12 journalists.

In a statement, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said it demands justice to the victims of the massacre who were mostly female relatives and associates of a gubernatorial candidate in Maguindanao and reporters from various outlets.

“The Ampatuan massacre, which the military has confirmed, was perpetrated by Shariff Aguak Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. and police Sr. Inspector Dicay, goes beyond the issue of freedom of the press and of expression and strikes at the very foundations of democracy.”

The family and lawyers of Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu were on their way to Shariff Aguak town to file his certificate of candidacy for Maguindanao governor when they were kidnapped and slain by 100 armed men in Ampatuan town.

The military said the suspects are believed to belong to the group of Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. who is planning to run for the governor’s office now occupied by his father Andal Sr.

The NUJP said the massacre reinforces the Philippines’ image not only being the most dangerous country for journalists in the world, outside of Iraq, “but a candidate for a failed democracy.”

“Running for office and voting are as much exercises of free will and expression as covering and reporting the news,’ the group said.

The NUJP added: “We expect nothing less from this government than the swift apprehension and punishment of everyone involved in this gruesome assault on the national body politic, including the masterminds, regardless of who they might be. Anything less would mean that the impunity that has emboldened those who would silence the press, staining this administration with the worst record of murdered journalists, has spread to embolden those who would subvert our democracy for their own selfish interests,” the group said.

Nestor Burgos, NUJP national chair, said the incident should not discourage journalists from doing their work, particularly the 2010 elections.

The Iloilo Police and Defense Press Corps (IPDPC) headed by Nony Basco of ABS-CBN-Iloilo extended its sympathies to journalists who were killed in the massacre.

“We strongly condemn the merciless killings of our media colleagues in Mindanao. We are also calling the government to enforce the full force of law in order to give justice to the victims,” the IPDPC said.

Iloilo media practitioners wore black shirts Tuesday to protest the massacre of Mindanao journalists.

SENSELESS AND INHUMANE

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas, who is the chairman of the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP), also condemned the massacre.

“As chairman of the LCP, I condemn in the strongest terms possible the Maguindanao massacre which affected relatives of politicians and our media practitioners who are innocent and only covered the filing of a certificate of candidacy,” he said.

Treñas said the “senseless and inhumane” incident must be probed deeply and the culprits brought to the hands of the law.

“Politics is part of our democracy and I don’t see any reason why violence should be used. No one has the right to impose political vendetta. We hope that in this election, all senseless political killings will be stopped,” he added.  

Iloilo City Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog said the massacre is contrary to the principles of democracy and humanity.

“Politics should not be a reason to take anyone’s life, especially women and media practitioners who are only doing their work. We condemn what happened and we commiserate with the families of the victims,” Mabilog said.

Mabilog said the government should use the full force of the law to give justice to the victims and prevent more bloodshed in Mindanao.

“We should not look at political alliances or leanings on this incident. Those who are responsible for what happened should be made to answer so that democracy and compassion for humanity will continue,” he added.

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers-Iloilo headed by Joshua Alim also denounced the massacre especially that two female lawyers – Connie Brizuela and Cynthia Oquendo – were among those killed.

Brizuela and Oquendo are members of Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM) and the NUPL.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

RAPE and child abuse cases were filed against two suspects who allegedly raped and killed a 16-year-old lass in San Jose, Antique early this year.

Nestor Pagura and Santiago Patiño are facing rape and homicide charges and violation of Republic Act 7610 (Special Protection against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination) before the Antique Provincial Prosecutors Office.

Pagura and Patiño are the prime suspects in the rape-slay of Kirsten Mejica of San Jose, Antique.

Mejica was found half-naked and barely conscious at a vacant lot in Brgy. Funda-Dalipe on January 31. She died a few hours after she was taken to Angel Salazar Memorial General Hospital.

Mejica and her boyfriend were on a date at the scene of the incident when the suspects pummeled their heads with a blunt object.

The suspects allegedly raped Mejica and stuffed plastic, sand and wood in her sex organ.

Atty. Mario Sison, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI-6) director, Mejica’s boyfriend identified Pagura as one of the suspects.

Sison said the semen found in Mejica’s vagina matched that of Patiño based on the DNA test requested by the NBI.

The NBI also filed extortion charges against a certain Manuel Espartero who tried to mulct Mejica’s family in exchange for the speedy filing of the rape with homicide case.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

AN official of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) turned on human rights groups who are against the random drug testing on students.

Paul Ledesma, PDEA-6 director, questioned why human rights groups are opposing drug tests in schools when these cannot be considered violations of human rights.

Ledesma said the proliferation of illegal drugs is a threat to national security which must be confronted with resolve.

“One of the solutions is to conduct random drug tests in schools to prevent the youth from using illegal drugs. The young people are the main target of drug syndicates,” Ledesma said.

Ledesma also urged private institutions and organizations to adopt their internal drug control policy for their own welfare.

The policy will also prevent human rights groups from intervening in random drug tests and other anti-illegal drugs measures of private and public institutions.

The Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) and Department of Health (DOH) have started conducting this month random drug tests on students in Region 6.

Dr. Rex Casiple, CHEd regional office officer-in-charge, said random tests began among students in Aklan and Antique provinces since October 16.

This week, CHEd-DOH teams conducting the tests would be in Negros Occidental, Iloilo, Capiz and Guimaras.

Health and education officials would conduct the testing in 64 schools in Western Visayas – 30 in Panay Island and 34 in Negros Occidental.

Tests were also conducted in five universities in Iloilo City last November 9.

The testing complies with the national government’s directive to heighten the government’s campaign to ensure that all public and private high schools and colleges are drug-free.

The CHEd-DOH teams pick out randomly 10 students from each school from the list of students prepared by school officials. Those tagged for the tests were required to get their parents’ written permission.

The test results are confidential and the results would be forwarded to the CHEd’s national office.

Latest data from PDEA show that 150,000 persons are using illegal drugs in Western Visayas out of the 6.7 million users in the country. (With reports from Bombo Radyo-Iloilo)

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

MORE than 50 officers of the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) underwent random drug testing Monday morning.

S/Supt. Melvin Mongcal, ICPO director, led the 56 police commissioned and non-commissioned officers in submitting their urine samples to PNP Crime Laboratory personnel at the ICPO conference room starting 8am.

Insp. Herbert A. Tunac, Insp. Maria Cecilia H. Gonzales and SPO1 Ruben T. Bonaobra of the Crime Lab conducted the random drug test.

Of the 56 police personnel who underwent the test, 12 are police commissioned officers (with ranks of Inspector to Senior Superintendent.

A total of 44 police non-commissioned officers (with ranks of Police Officer 1 to Senior Police Officer 4) underwent the drug test.

Mongcal said the purpose of the random drugs is to ensure that police officers are not drug users.

“We hope to correct the notion that there are some members of the Philippine National Police who are allegedly using illegal drugs,” Mongcal added.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

FOUR fraternity members are suspects in the death of a teenager in Leganes, Iloilo a week ago.

C/Insp. Rogelio N. Ortigas, Leganes police chief, said a witness surfaced and testified that he saw four persons come out of the Leganes cemetery where victim Roland Heria was found dead November 10.

Ortigas said they have the names of the suspects, who are members of the Zigrab fraternity in Leganes, but refused to identify them pending the filing of the case.

Heria, 18, was found hanging inside the Leganes cemetery in the morning of November 10. He is a native of Sta. Barbara, Iloilo but stays with his uncle while studying at the Leganes National High School.

The Leganes police initially ruled suicide in Heria’s case but the autopsy showed that the victim died of massive blows to his head and chest.

Investigators also found blood in a tomb near the area where Heria was found.

Ortigas said they need more witnesses who will pin down the suspects as they only have circumstantial evidence.

“The first witness to come out only saw the suspects come out of the cemetery but we need someone who knew or saw the crime,” he added.

Ortigas said two of the suspects are brothers – one is involved in a homicide case in Dumangas, Iloilo while another is facing robbery charge.

The police chief said fraternity rivalry might be the motive in Heria’s death.

Heria was once a member of the suspects’ fraternity but he later transferred to another group, the SBR fraternity, Ortigas added.

“We hope to reach more witnesses who can shed light on what happened so we can file cases against the suspects,” Ortigas said.

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.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE region’s top cop ranted at police personnel who continue to resist the 7-9-7 work schedule imposed by the Police Regional Office (PRO-6).

C/Supt. Isagani Cuevas, PRO-6 director, said he received a text message from a concerned citizen informing him that a female police officer in Iloilo City slammed him for the new work schedule.

“I verified the identity of the informant and the police officer and they do exist. There are still officers who resist the 7-9-7 schedule,” Cuevas said.

Under the 7-9-7 duty scheme, police personnel in a station are divided into three teams. Team A reports to duty from 7am to 5pm while Team B reports from 9am to 7pm. Team C will report from 7pm to 7am.

The 7-9-7 duty is a deviation from the 2-day off, 1-day duty schedule previously followed by police personnel.

“Under the new schedule, two-thirds of the police force will be on duty, thereby ensuring maximum police presence. If we have enough cops on duty, we can fulfill our peacekeeping work,” Cuevas said.

Cuevas said police visibility on the streets will help deter crimes, particularly the Bukas/Basag Kotse gang which is preying on car owners.

Cuevas cited the accomplishments of the new duty shift scheme such as the foiled bank heist in Hinigaran, Negros Occidental and the solving of several robbery incidents in Iloilo province.

“In Hinigaran, the police were able to respond and neutralize the suspects because more than half of the force was on duty. Even the station commander led the hot pursuit,” he added.

The PRO-6 also credited the 7-9-7 work schedule for topping a survey on the performance of police offices in the country.

The survey was conducted by a private firm commissioned by the PNP national headquarters to check on the operational and administrative performance of police units.

Cuevas said police officers must work round-the-clock, unlike other public servants who are only required to work 8 hours a day.

Still, police officers are entitled to 1-day off per week. The scheduled break also rotates among the police station teams and personnel.

Mas maayu pa ang mga security guards kay ga duty 12 hours a day, ang police 10 hours lang ga reklamo pa. The 7-9-7 schedule aims to instill our officers that they should take our work as a serious career, not just an ordinary work. We also want to instill discipline and prevent our officers from gallivanting and moonlighting when they go on break,” Cuevas said.

The 7-9-7 schedule also assures spouses of police officers that they will go home after duty “thereby avoiding domestic problems among our officers.”

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.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE firearms amnesty program of the PNP has been extended until November 30.

Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) Director, S/Supt. Melvin Mongcal said the extension began Friday, November 6, following the issuance of the pertinent memorandum order.

The government’s Last and Final General Firearms Amnesty Program aims to recover 1,110,372 loose firearms in the country.

The amnesty took effect July 7, 2009 after President Gloria Arroyo issued Executive Order No. 817 and the extension became effective after Arroyo issued Executive Order 817-A dated October 30 that moved the deadline of the Final General Firearms Amnesty up to November 30.

The extended deadline was brought about by the request of some firearm owners for more time to process their applications, especially in areas badly hit by typhoons.

A total of 52,759 loose guns (unregistered guns and gun with expired permits) are circulating in the region but only 7,788 were accounted via the amnesty.

Mongcal said the ICPO is conducting information drive to let the public know about the amnesty extension.

“They should avail of this last opportunity to register or renew their gun licenses without the penalties and at a minimum registration fee of more or less P1,000,” Mongcal said, adding the ICPO will continue to confiscate illegal firearms as part of the PNP’s “Kontra Boga” drive.

EO 817-A also sought to synchronize the amnesty program to the impending passage of House Bill 6776 (Amendment to Firearms law) which would impose stiffer penalties against illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

OVER 7,000 of the more than 50,000 loose firearms in Western Visayas were accounted or recovered during the national government’s general firearms amnesty which expired last October 31. The amnesty aimed to encourage gun owners to register their firearms and reduce the number of loose guns come the 2010 elections.

Records from the Firearms Security Agencies and Guards Supervision (Fesags) office showed that 7,788 firearms with expired or no license were accounted, a measly 8% of the estimated 52,759 loose guns in the region.

Of the total firearms accounted, 2,359 are unlicensed while 5,426 have expired licenses.

PRO-6 records show that 29,440 firearms have expired licenses while 23,319 unlicensed guns are possessed by individuals and criminal groups.

There have been reports that President Gloria Arroyo extended for another month the gun amnesty program to significantly reduce loose guns in the country.

But the PRO-6 has yet to receive a memorandum order relative to the extension of the amnesty.

C/Supt. Isagani Cuevas, PRO-6 director, earlier ordered PNP units in the region to recover one loose gun a week.

Cuevas advised gun owners who want to register their firearms to prepare the needed documents in anticipation of the amnesty extension.

The Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International Studies (GIIS) reported that a total of 1,110,372 loose firearms (small arms and light weapons) are circulating in the Philippines.

The GIIS also said small arms and light weapons are responsible for over half a million deaths each year, including 300,000 in armed conflicts.

Statistics from the PNP national headquarters show that there are 1,110,372 loose firearms all over the country with the biggest concentration of unlicensed firearms estimated at 315,128 in the National Capital Region (NCR), including 263,457 un-renewed licenses.

The second highest number of loose firearms placed at 114,189 is in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) where an active rebellion is being waged by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)

Region 4A has the third highest number of loose firearms totaling 101,758, followed by Central Luzon, 78,151; Central Mindanao, 62,718; Western Visayas, 52,759; Central Visayas, 52,732; Davao provinces, 49,178; Southwestern Mindanao, 45,974; Caraga Region, 43,960; Eastern Visayas, 43,409; Northern Mindanao, 42,231; Cagayan Valley, 32,326; Bicol Region, 28,587; Ilocos Region, 26,928; Cordillera Region, 11,628; and the lowest in Region 4B (Palawan and Mindoro), 8,779.

Director General Jesus Verzosa, PNP chief, said that from 2004 to 2008, 97.7% of gun-related crimes involved loose firearms, making the Philippines 10th in gun homicide rates worldwide.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Police Regional Office (PRO-6) is awaiting a copy of the official memorandum order that reportedly extended the gun amnesty program.

C/Supt. Isagani Cuevas, PRO-6 director, said the PNP higher command has not issued any word on the 30-day extension of the gun amnesty program extension which was announced in the national media Friday last week.

The amnesty, which expired October 30, gave gun owners with unlicensed firearms the chance to register their guns. Owners with expired licenses were also allowed to renewed their permits sans penalties.

The amnesty aims to reduce the number of illegal firearms in the country.

Cuevas said he will advise unregistered gun owners to prepare the needed documents in anticipation of the amnesty extension.

“If the extension takes effect, these gun owners will be prepared if they have their papers in order. For the meantime, we will observe status quo until we receive the memorandum order on the extension,” Cuevas said.

PNP chief Director General Jesus Verzosa had said President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo granted the request to extend the general firearms amnesty until November 30.

“This was in consideration of the numerous requests from the public and also [military and police commanders] in areas where typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng restricted their desire to avail of the firearms amnesty,” Verzosa said in a statement.

The police chief said that as of October 28, a total of 171,337 of the 1.1 million loose firearms have been accounted for since the police started an intensified campaign against loose firearms.

The government has also put up a reward system as part of the campaign against loose firearms.

“We have a reward system right now to account for loose firearms. Our proposal is to give P50,000 for recovery of three to five firearms. If there is increased recovery for stashes of firearms, we will evaluate the reward to be given,” Verzosa said.

He added that the Office of the President has allotted P5 million for the campaign against loose firearms.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE observance of All Saints’ and Souls’ Days in Western Visayas was relatively peaceful, according to the PNP.

Except for two fire incidents in Aklan and Bacolod City (see related stories), C/Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, said the region remained orderly during the Halloween break.

Cuevas said the regular PNP officers and force multipliers such as tanods and auxiliary police managed to secure peace and order throughout Western Visayas.

S/Supt. Renato Gumban, OIC-Iloilo provincial police director, said municipal police stations tightened their watch on cemeteries and public places to deter criminals from striking.

Gumban said they did not receive any report on major crimes such as robberies in the province.

The 100 police auxiliaries and barangay tanods also helped the Iloilo City Police Office manage traffic and keep peace and order in the metropolis.

In Negros Occidental, only isolated king and shooting incidentas in Cadiz City, Candoni and Isabela were reported to the police.

C/Insp. Rico Santotome Jr, spokesman of the Negros Occidental PNP, said three shooting incidents were reported November 1-2 – two in Isabela town and one in Cadiz City.

On November 1, Francis Menis allegedly shot Junjun Ogatis at Barangay Bungahin, Isabela around 7:30am.

Ronaldo Estanda and Donald Malba survived gunshots from an unidentified suspect at Brgy. 4 Sunday morning. 

In Cadiz City, suspect Rex Tayunting allegedly shot Junrey Noval and Jonel Santillan past midnight Sunday using an unknown gun caliber.

Ramy Gonzales was hacked dead by Paquito Espanola November 1 at Sitio Mailad, Brgy. Cabia-an in Candoni, according to Insp. Anthony Cana, the town’s chief of police.

On Sunday afternoon, anti-illegal drugs operatives and the Pontevedra PNP arrested six persons at Brgy. Antipolo, Pontevedra for selling marijuana sticks and holding pot session.

Santotome said no untoward incidents happened in cemeteries and other public places.

S/Supt. Manuel Felix, Negros Occidental police director, credited the police and the public for cooperating with the PNP’s Oplan Kalag-Kalag drive.

Felix and Supts. Flomar Natuel and Armando Tubongbanua went around the province to check cemeteries and police presence.

Greenbelt heist suspects  planned to sell loot in WV 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

POLICE officers in Western Visayas are on their toes for the remaining members of the Alvin Flores gang who robbed a watch shop inside a posh shopping mall in Makati City last October 18.

C/Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, said they continue to monitor and verify information that members of the robbery gang might seek refuge in the region.

Cuevas said they will make sure that none of the suspected robbers will lie low in any part of Western Visayas following the death of their leader, Alvin Flores, in Cebu last week.

Four gang members, including Flores, were killed in a shootout with agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) at Sitio Lutao Marikina, Brgy. Estaca, Compostela Thursday night.

Aside from Flores, Ritchie Gigante Hijapon, Mark Alejandro Bondoc Salamanca, and Roger Sanchez also died in the gun battle.

The Alvin Flores gang is being tagged in the October 18 Greenbelt 5 robbery in Makati City. The suspects carted away an estimated P8 million worth of Rolex watches.

One of the gang members was killed in a shootout with the bodyguards of Taguig Mayor Sigfredo “Freddie” Tinga.

In an interview with Aksyon Radyo, an NBI agent who joined in the operation against Flores’ group, claimed that the robbery gang planned to sell their loot in the cities of Iloilo and Bacolod.

The NBI in Cebu said six members are still roaming the province or other areas of the region.

Medardo de Lemos, NBI director in Central Visayas, said of the 11 suspects who staged the heist in Rolex store in Makati, five have either been killed or arrested.

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