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Motorcycle gunmen target journalists

Philippines | Press Freedom

MANILA, Jan. 22 – The Philippine National Police (PNP) has declared an all-out war against gunmen riding in tandem on motorcycles responsible for the murder of 2,089 persons in 2011 and counting.

PNP Director General Nicanor A. Bartolome issued the order because of the string of high-profile criminal activities committed with impunity by motorcycle-riding gunmen riding in tandem in the streets.

The instructions of the PNP chief provides the strategic guidance for PNP units to re-direct operational thrusts toward motorcycle-riding criminal elements, particularly the notorious riding in tandem suspects responsible for a string of high-profile criminal activities.

“Criminal elements have taken advantage of the high-speed mobility provided by motorcycles and have used these efficient vehicles as instruments of crime,” Bartolome said.

“A national strategy is in the works by the National Headquarters for a coordinated and uniform implementation of police operations against riding in tandem criminal elements that prey on citizens in the streets.

The campaign strategy is an ideal blend of police action on the one hand and public vigilance and community support on the other.

“The police action involves reinforced police mobile and visibility patrol complemented by vigorous checkpoint operations and on-the-spot weapons check operations on motorists riding tandem and also on board public conveyances,” PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Agrimero Cruz said.

Journalists have also been murdered by hired gunmen riding on motorbikes.

The latest victim was Christopher Guarin, 42, a veteran radio block-timer commentator and a publisher of Tatak News Nationwide, a community newspaper in southern Philippines, who was shot dead by motorcycle gunmen riding in tandem in the presence of his horrified wife and daughter earlier this month.

Guarin was the first Filipino journalist murdered in 2012.

In 2011, the PNP recorded 1700 crime incidents involving riding-in-tandem suspects with 2,089 victims.  This is higher than the 1,565 incidents in 2010 with 1,819 victims.

Central Luzon and the Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon (CALABARZON) provinces, and Southern Mindanao, posted the highest number of riding-in-tandem crime incidents.

The chief PNP said “neutralization of riding in tandem suspects translate to the solution of other criminal cases as these suspects are most likely involved in other criminal activities as well aside from weapons possession and possible carjacking of the motorcycles used in their activities.”

Bartolome cited the notable success of the Motorized Anti-Sreetcrime Operatives (MASCO) program of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) that significantly reduced cases of riding in tandem crime by a huge margin.

He encouraged other Police Regional Offices to learn from the experience of NCRPO in operations against motorcycle-riding criminal elements.

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