>News Update PNP: Car thefts down by half

>MANILA, Philippines – Car theft syndicates have been stealing an average of two cars daily nationwide during the first two months of 2011, and this is an improvement compared to the same period last year, a Highway Patrol Group (HPG) official said yesterday.

“For the period of January to February 2010, there was an average of 5.9 vehicles stolen a day. For the same period this year, there were only 2.1 vehicles stolen daily,” HPG director Chief Superintendent Leonardo Espina told The STAR.

He added that an average of 4.7 vehicles were stolen daily for the whole of 2010.

Espina said HPG operatives continue their effort to validate cases of car theft in close coordination with territorial units of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

PNP chief Director General Raul Bacalzo said the PNP-HPG has submitted short-term and long-term recommendations to a joint Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Department of Justice (DOJ) committee to eradicate the problem on car theft and carjacking.

He said the short-term recommendations focus on law enforcement to support police stations.

“We’ve seen the result of the intensified campaign… with the number of recovered stolen vehicles and arrest of suspected car thieves,” Bacalzo said.

In the long term, Bacalzo said the DILG and the PNP have been pushing to make car theft and carjacking non-bailable offenses.

“We also have recommended a review on the insurance law, particularly on the sale of totally wrecked vehicles, and we have recommended to President Aquino the revival of the clearance system on the seaports, prevent the shipping out of (stolen) vehicles,” he said.

The PNP chief also suggested a review and possible regulation of the trade in second-hand cars so car theft syndicates would not be able to use the dealers in their activities.

Bacalzo said the HPG has filed criminal and administrative charges against police and Land Transportation Office personnel who allegedly work with criminal syndicates to effect the registration of stolen cars. Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo earlier said the names of 13 PNP and LTO officials and personnel have cropped up in the initial stage of the investigation.

Meanwhile, Chief Superintendent Benito Estipona, director of the Special Investigation Task Group, said brothers Roger and Raymond Dominguez – alleged carjack gang leaders – and their reported cohorts were formally indicted for the murder of car traders Emerson Lozano and Venson Evangelista and Lozano’s co-employee, Ernani Sensil.

Estipona told The STAR even the girlfriends of the Dominguez brothers – sexy actress Katrina Paula (Angeline Samonte in real life) and Julliane Allysa Crisostomo were included in the charges due to their alleged participation in the crime. – By Cecille Suerte Felipe

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