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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.

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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

FOUR suspects armed with pistols snatched more or less P80,000 cash from a construction firm in Mandurriao, Iloilo Friday afternoon.

Personnel of JJM Builders at Brgy. Hibao-an Sur, Mandurriao were preparing the payroll for their employees when they noticed a motorcycle stop in front of their office past 4pm.

Jude Landar, JJM administrative officer, said he locked the office’s front door as he was suspicious of the motorcycle.

But he was surprised when the three persons entered the backdoor and ordered them to give their money.

When Landar looked at the direction of the men, he was already staring at the barrel of a caliber .45 pistol.

Landar said the suspects then went to his officemate who was counting the payroll money and grabbed the cash.

The suspects also took Landar’s P3,000 personal money and cellphone.

A fourth suspect, possibly the lookout, entered the office and told the other suspects to flee.

They boarded two motorcycles towards the town of Pavia.

Landar said the two of the suspects wore bandanas around their head while another was wearing a jacket.

The suspects were between 30-40 years old.

The robbery happened a day after C/Insp. Conrado Carganillo assumed the helm of the Mandurriao police station.

The Iloilo City Police Office reshuffled the chiefs of city police precincts following the rash of bukas kotse and robbery incidents.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

FOUR suspected robbers were killed in a shootout with the PNP’s 608th Iloilo Provincial Mobile Group (IPMG) in a resort in San Dionisio, Iloilo 7pm Thursday.

Three of the four suspects have been identified – Eric Alminar, Sonny Madriaga and Reynold Romawak – all of Bagong Silang, Caloocan City.

S/Supt. Ricardo dela Paz, Iloilo provincial police director, said the suspects robbed Chinese trader Tee Wee Zhang in Sara town proper around 6pm.

The suspects took P20,000 cash and cellphones from the store, according to Supt. Ipil Dueñas, 608th IPMG director.

The suspects engaged the 608th IPMG in a resort in Brgy. Nipa, San Dionisio at around 7pm.

Dueñas said they learned of the suspects’ whereabouts through tips from civilians whom the fleeing suspects almost ran over.

Dueñas said the suspects fired at their team, forcing them to retaliate.

Recovered from the suspects were two caliber .38 revolvers, 1 caliber .45 pistol and a hand grenade.

Dueñas said the slain suspects could be members of the Commando robbery group operating in Manila. He based his findings on the musang (mouse deer) tattoos found on the suspects.

C/Supt. Isagani, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, said the death of the four suspected robbers validated earlier reports that members of crime groups were spotted in Iloilo.

Cuevas said the information from the tipster and quick reaction of the police led to the neutralization of the suspects.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

POLICE have filed criminal charges against the suspects in the robbery of the remittance center of a bus liner operator in Jaro, Iloilo City early this month.

C/Insp. Orly Gabinete, Jaro PNP chief, said robbery in band charges were filed against 10 suspects who connived to rob the office of Vallacar Transit, operator of the Ceres Bus Line, in Brgy. Buhang, Jaro.

The heavily-armed suspects carted away an estimated P300,000 cash from the Vallacar office last September 7.

But Gabinete did not name the suspects saying only the Iloilo City Prosecutors Office (ICPO) can provide such information.

But the ICPO refused to release copies of the charge sheet to the media.

The Jaro police said they want to surprise the suspects whom they are still hunting, reason why they cannot reveal the culprits’ identities.

Police sources privy with the investigation said the heist was an inside job because the suspects were familiar with the scene of the incident.

The suspects knew the remittance office where conductors remit their earnings for the day. The office also houses a safety vault where the remittances are kept.

The robbers also struck at the time when two of the four security guards were having dinner. They also timed the strike when the bus conductors have remitted their collections.

“The suspects got information about their target from someone who is familiar with the area,” the police sources said.

The investigators also believe that a person with knowledge of police or military operations directed the heist which was over in 5 minutes.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

MORE than P240,000 terminal fees was discovered missing inside the Bacolod-Silay Airport in Silay City, Negros Occidental Wednesday.

Reports reaching the Police Regional Office (PRO-6) said unidentified suspects filched a total of P240,400 cash from a steel cabinet at the second floor of the airport.

According to the Silay City police headed by Supt. Jerry Bartolome, the theft is an inside job as the suspects knew where the money was hidden.

The police have established the identities of the suspects but they refused to give details pending further investigation and filing of charges.

Antonio Alfonso, chief of the Civil Aviation Authority based at the airport, said they will impose severe penalties on any airport employee involved in the incident.

The airport management will also inspect the facility and revise security measures to prevent a similar incident from happening in the future.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

IS THE spate of robberies in Western Visayas a preparation for the 2010 elections?

Top police officials believe that robbery groups could be under the direction of some unscrupulous politicians out to raise funds for next year’s elections.

This, as two major robberies happened in Iloilo City and Hinigaran, Negros Occidental in a span of two days since Monday.

Around 10-12 heavily armed men raided the remittance center of Vallacar Transit, operator of Ceres Bus Liner, in Jaro, Iloilo City Monday evening.

The suspects, who were armed with M16 Armalite rifles, machine pistols and handguns, carted away an estimated P300,000 cash and personal belongings of Vallacar employees.

The Jaro police has yet to identify the suspects in the heist.

On Tuesday evening, six suspects attempted to rob almost P12 million from the RCBC Bank branch in the town of Hinigaran, some 60 kilometers south of Bacolod City.

Reports from the Negros Occidental Provincial Police Office said the heist happened 6:45pm when the RCBC Bank on Rizal Street was about to close.

Concerned bystanders reported the incident to the Hinigaran police headed by S/Insp. Sonny Boy Bernus.

Bernus together with PO3 Romelo Gentogao, PO3 Ernel Mudanza, PO1 Lyle Cañazares and PO1 Armar Mariano chased the six suspects who commandeered a tricycle as their getaway vehicle.

A running gunbattle erupted between the police and the suspects, resulting in the death of two robbers. One of the dead suspects was identified as Dennis Española of Brgy. Cansalungon in Isabela town.

Identification cards recovered from Española showed that he is an active member of the CAFGU auxiliary under the 12th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army based in Negros Occidental. The other killed suspect remains unidentified.

The four remaining suspects fled with three RCBC employees whom they used as hostages. The suspects later released the hostages at Brgy. Patique, Hinigaran

At around 11:45am Wednesday, the Hinigaran police and the 613th Provincial Mobile Group arrested suspect Ricky Billiones who is also a CAFGU member from Isabela, Negros Occidental.

The Hinigaran policemen recovered P11,958,000 cash in a sack which the suspects left inside the bank premises. Another P102,000 cash was left behind by the robbers in the tricycle along with the two hostages at Barangay Patique.

A caliber .38 revolver was recovered beside Española’s body. Also recovered were empty shells and live ammunition of caliber .9 mm pistol inside the bank and two magazine assembly of M16 Armalite rifle in the abandoned tricycle, two cellphones and a black shoulder bag allegedly belonging to Española.

Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, said he went to Hinigaran to lead the investigation on the RCBC robbery.

Cuevas said he learned that the group in the RCBC heist was also tagged in several robberies in Negros Occidental in 2006, a year before the 2007 national and local elections. 

“It is possible that robbery groups will be used in the coming elections. We are watching out for them in terms of intelligence monitoring to prevent more robberies from happening,” Cuevas said.

Cuevas said he ordered all intelligence units to remain vigilant following the series of robberies in the region. He also ordered all policemen to be on alert so they can respond to any incidents in their area.

“The good thing about the Hinigaran incident is that the police reacted and chased the suspects until some of them were neutralized and arrested. Our personnel should be alert at all times,” he added.

Ceres robbers ‘knew exactly where to go’

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE robbery of the remittance office of a bus line operator in Jaro, Iloilo City Monday evening might be an “inside job,” investigators said.

A group of 10-12 armed suspects carted away some P300,000 cash from the office of Vallacar Transit, operator of Ceres Bus Liner, at Brgy. Buhang, Jaro past 7 pm the other day.

Employees of the bus company said the suspects were on board a white Starex van and wielded M16 Armalite rifles, Uzi submachine gun and pistols.  

The van entered the Vallacar compound with ease as the gate was open while some of the guards on duty were having dinner.

Based on the accounts of Analou Fernandez, Vallacar supervisor, three suspects went inside the main office and hauled the money from the cashier. One of the suspects was disguised as a uniformed bus conductor.  The other robbers neutralized the security guards and served as lookout in and out of the compound.

The suspects also tried to forcibly open the safety vault containing P200,000 cash by shooting the lock with a 12-gauge shotgun but they failed.   

The remittance office is fashioned out of old Ceres buses, the same place where a former conductor held hostage several employees two months ago.

Apparently, the suspects struck at the time when Ceres bus conductors have just remitted their collections for the day. Some of the robbers wore ball caps while others donned masks.

Aside from the collection money, the suspects also took away the personal belongings and cash of Vallacar employees and the firearms of the four security guards on duty.

Fernandez said the suspects moved in a swift and organized manner knowing exactly where to go. The heist was over in more or less five minutes.

The suspects fled towards the municipality of Leganes. The ICPO asked help from the Iloilo Provincial Police Office to set up checkpoints in adjacent towns but they failed to net the suspects.

C/Insp. Orly Gabinete, Jaro police chief, said the suspects may have inside information on where the money was kept and when to strike.

“The suspects are certainly professionals. They moved quickly and knew where to go,” Gabinete said.

S/Supt. Melvin Moncal, ICPO director, ordered the deployment of the Special Weapons and Tactics team around the city following the heist.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

CHARGES for illegal possession of firearms and explosives were filed against two absentee cops and a civilian tagged in the robbery of two delivery vans in Aklan last week.

 

The cases against SPO1 Rex Delos Reyes and PO1 Jeremiah Pilapil of Iloilo City, and Delos Reyes’ younger brother Julius were filed with the Antique Provincial Prosecutor’s Office.

 

Antique Provincial Prosecutor Cesar Dan Alicanto said the trio has 10 days to file their counter-affidavits to five counts of illegal possession of firearms, illegal possession of ammunitions and 33 counts of illegal possession of explosives.

 

Alicanto said the suspects refused to undergo inquest proceedings and opted to file their counter affidavits.

 

The delos Reyes brothers and Pilapil were arrested in a checkpoint mounted by the Pandan police station in northern Antique Friday afternoon last week.

 

They were riding in delos Reyes’ black car when flagged down by the Pandan police.

 

The Pandan PNP conducted checkpoint at Brgy. Hinalinan, Pandan after the Buruanga PNP sent a flash alarm relative to the robbery of two delivery vans.

 

The Pandan PNP recovered the following items from the suspects: M79 grenade launcher with telescope, Uzi machine pistol with silencer, 12-gauge shotgun, .45 caliber pistol, .22 caliber pistol, eight assorted hand grenades, 26 rounds of 40mm live ammunitions of M79, seven rounds of .45 caliber ammunitions, five 12-gauge shotgun ammunitions, 100 rounds of 9mm ammunitions, two rounds of .22 caliber ammunitions, six magazine for Uzi pistol, one .45 pistol holster, six magazines pouch for M79, and six car plate numbers.

 

According to C/Supt Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, SPO1 delos Reyes is one of the police officers reassigned to Mindanao for alleged involvement in illegal activities.

 

Department of Justice Sec. Raul Gonzalez also tagged SPO1 delos Reyes in extortion activities and the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB).

 

Delos Reyes, who went absent without leave (AWOL) from the PNP, filed a P5-million libel suit against Gonzalez last year.

 

According to his family in Brgy. Don Esteban, Lapuz, Iloilo City, Pilapil went AWOL from his last assignment in Sta. Barbara PNP to prepare for his work abroad.

 

Atty. Plaridel Nava, delos Reyes’ counsel, said the case against his client has many technical errors.

 

Nava also defended his client saying the latter did not go to Aklan nor did he carry a cache of firearms and explosives in his car.

 

Cuevas said they are probing deeper into reports that delos Reyes was involved in the death of PO2 Frederick Capasao, who was formerly assigned with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, two years ago.

 

Delos Reyes, who was formerly assigned at the Regional Intelligence and Investigation Division (RIID) of PRO-6, is also being tagged in the shooting to death of Rustico Vega, service manager of Honda Cars-Iloilo, early this year.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

DEPARTMENT of Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. warned banks and money transfer agencies in Iloilo City to be wary of a group of robbers from Luzon.

 

Citing unnamed sources, Gonzalez said he received information that the alleged robbers have been conducting surveillance operations on three major banks and a money transfer firm in the city.

 

The target firms are Banco De Oro, Metrobank, Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) and Western Union in Aklan, Gonzalez said.

 

“The information is still being verified further. The planned robberies are linked to the 2010 elections. The money that will be raised will be used in the campaign next year. We want the banks to be careful at all times that’s why we are releasing this information,” he added.

 

The justice department chief also revealed that a group of rebels also from Luzon arrived in Iloilo to conduct extortion activities to raise funds for next year’s elections.

 

“They have tie-ups with local rebel forces to extort from businesses and candidates. They even sent extortion letters to two persons already,” Gonzalez said.

 

Alleged members of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB) and the New People’s Army (NPA) have been accused of extorting from politicians during election season.

 

The rebels demand fees from candidates in exchange for “permits to campaign” in their strongholds.

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

FIVE armed men posing as cops robbed a resident of San Miguel, Iloilo late Sunday evening.

 

Farmer Elpidio Sencil was startled when he heard somebody knocking on the front door of their shack at Brgy. St. Niño, San Miguel past 11pm the other day.

 

When he peeped outside, Sencil told the San Miguel police that saw five persons wearing Fatigue uniforms and bearing long firearms and pistol outside of their house.

 

When Sencil asked his unexpected visitors about their purpose, one of the men claimed they were police officers looking for a wanted criminal.

 

Sencil allowed the men inside his home thinking they were authorities but was surprised when they declared the heist.

 

The victim said the uniformed men threatened to kill him if he resisted. The suspects took away a Kubota motor he used for his farm equipment, six native chickens and a rechargeable flashlight. The five suspects then boarded an unidentified vehicle and fled towards Iloilo City.

 

Senior Insp. Dennis Pamonag, San Miguel police chief, said Sencil was uncertain whether the clothing the suspects used were similar to the green Fatigue uniforms issued to Army soldiers or the purple-and-blue uniform issued to PNP personnel.

 

Pamonag said the firearms carried by the suspects might be homemade shotguns fashioned as M16 Armalite rifles.

 

“They (suspects) might be members of an organized crime group or rebels. We have no idea about their identities yet,” Pamonag said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE case of Claire Nueros, who was found dead inside her house in the posh Savannah Subdivision Sunday evening, maybe more than just a plain case of robbery.

The autopsy report of PNP medico legal, Dr. Owen Lebaquin shows that Nueros (not Nuerus as reported earlier) was raped before she was bludgeoned and strangled to death.

Lebaquin said the victim could have died of massive head injuries and strangulation.

Lebaquin also found lacerations in Nueros’ vagina, indicating the possibility that she was sexually abused.

Nueros was found dead inside the master’s bedroom of her Savannah residence at Brgy. Abilay, Oton, Iloilo past 10pm Sunday.

Two suspects wielding long firearms entered the victim’s house, hogtied her and house help Charmaine Larupay. They also carted away a laptop computer, two cellphones and undetermined amount of cash.

The Oton police headed by Senior Insp. Vicente Castor said they are now following a lead on the case but refused to elaborate for the meantime.

But who is Nueros and why would the suspects rape, rob and kill her that fateful Sunday evening?

According to sources close to the victim, Nueros owns photocopying service across University of San Agustin and has a lending firm in Iloilo City and San Joaquin, Iloilo. She also delivers eggs and breeds pet dogs.

Nueros is related to San Joaquin mayor Ninfa Garin and Association of Barangay Captains president Vilma Getuya.

The Oton police are now looking into the backgrounds of Nueros former househelp from Alimodian and a certain Marilou who manages the victim’s businesses.

Castor said it is possible that Nueros knew the suspects reason why they wore masks and the pet dogs did not mind their presence.

It is also possible that the suspects also planned to sexually abuse the victim aside from robbing her home.

Castor said they expect to make a breakthrough in the case as they continue to investigate the leads they have received from their sources.

(Visit http://www.thedailyguardian.com)

The posh Savannah Homes is where resident Claire Nuerus was robbed and murdered Sunday night.  (Photo by Tara Yap)

The posh Savannah Homes is where resident Claire Nuerus was robbed and murdered Sunday night. (Photo by Tara Yap)

Daring men rob house, kill owner in posh subdivision

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ROBBERS continue their murderous rampage, this time victimizing a nurse-cum-businesswoman residing in a posh subdivision in Oton, Iloilo.

Claire Nuerus, 34, of Lot 14, Block 17, Glen B of Savannah Subdivision at Brgy. Abilay Norte, Oton was found dead inside the master’s bedroom past 11pm Sunday after two armed robbers entered their house.

Nuerus was accompanied by her house help Charmaine Larupay who was washing their dishes when the suspects entered the house.

Larupay said the suspects wore balaclava masks, wore black clothing and wielded long firearms.

Nuerus was in the sala chatting with his husband, who is a ship doctor in the US, using her Cobalt laptop computer.

The suspects then ordered Larupay to close the windows and turn off the lights. Afterwards, the two women were told to drop to the floor and keep quiet.

Larupay said her employer even told the robbers to take away whatever they want, except for her laptop computer, as the security guards might catch them.

“But one of the suspects said they cannot be intimidated and they have lookouts around the house who are monitoring the guards,” Larupay said.

The suspects later hogtied the victims and brought them to two separate rooms. Nuerus resisted but the robbers allegedly hit her on the head with a hard object.

Larupay said the suspect also pummeled her head with an unidentified object.

Several minutes later, the househelp untied her hands as she noticed that the suspects were already gone. She then checked her employer inside the master bedroom who was bathed in her own blood.

Larupay called the subdivision guards who informed the police about the incident. Nuerus succumbed to head injuries and strangulation. Rope marks were found in her neck.

SPO2 Jose Rey Pabalan, Oton police investigator, said the incident may have happened between 8pm to 10pm based on the testimonies of Larupay.

Pabalan said the suspects may have entered the posh subdivision through the farmland area which is not enclosed by the fence.

Larupay said the suspects spoke karay-a and have calloused hands.

Senior Insp. Castor, Oton police chief, said they are still facing a blank wall as to the suspects although they are considering robbery as motive.

Castor said it is also possible that the suspects got help from persons familiar with the Nuerus resident.

“We are checking on employees and househelps who were fired by the victim in the past months. There are some leads but we cannot divulge them as of this time. Everybody is a suspect here,” Castor said.

Nuerus’ remains were brought to the St. Therese Funeral Homes in Molo, Iloilo City.

Earlier, the Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) said robbers have become daring in their operations to the point of killing their victims.

IPPO director Ricardo dela Paz said prominent persons might be protecting robbers in the province reason why they are very aggressive.

Residents of Savannah, particularly in Glen B, said they have been complaining about the lack of security guards and ample lighting in their area, making them susceptible to robbers and other criminal elements.

(Visit www.thedailyguardian.com for more news)

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

PROMINENT personalities might be coddling robbers in Iloilo province reason why they are so daring and outright murderous in their operations, the chief of the Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) said.

Senior Supt. Ricardo dela Paz, IPPO director, said they have noticed that robbers have become very aggressive that they even kill their victims just like what happened to two collectors in Dingle and Sara in the last two weeks.

“While we are not necessarily saying that the police or military is behind them, we could say that somebody is protecting these suspects because they are very daring,” dela Paz said.

The police are also looking at inside job or “holdup me” cases just like what happened with Michael Mediana, collector of Life Bank Lending who allegedly arranged the heist with his cousin Jose Ruel Mediana and Reu Carbonera in Dingle, Iloilo.

The IPPO records speak for the resurgence of highway robbers with 42 robbery cases happening in the first six months of 2008 or an average of six heists per month.

Last month, seven robbery cases occurred, victimizing mostly lending firm collectors.

Dela Paz said they have solved 30 robbery cases and arrested 25 suspects who belong to the group of Edgar Cordero, the prime suspect in the assassination of Ajuy vice mayor Ramon Rojas.

The IPPO is set to meet with lending firms in the province to discuss security measures for their collectors who fall prey to robbers.

Dela Paz said he is concerned with the safety of lending firm employees “because collectors look like money to robbers.”

This is the second time that the IPPO will meet with lending firms to discuss security matters but dela Paz said he has yet to see full cooperation from these companies.

Dela Paz said they have suggested to lending firms that police officers will escort their collectors in far-flung areas to deter robbers from victimizing them.

“We hope that this time they will cooperate so we can protect them also. The police continues to be vigilant by conducting checkpoints and visibility patrols in various towns but it seems robbers are also looking after our shadows,” dela Paz said.

 (Visit www.thedailyguardian.com for more news)

 

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