Cops can't jail 'bukas-kotse' youths

by Zen Hernandez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 09 2011 06:42 PM | Updated as of Sep 11 2011 03:54 AM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - More and more minors are engaging in criminal activities.

According to the Makati police, youths strike along EDSA Guadalupe and prey upon unsuspecting taxi drivers.

They work in groups of 3 or 5 people and are most active during rush hour.

Once a target is spotted, they would bang the trunk or the hood of a taxi to get the driver's attention, another would open the door and get the bags of the passenger and a third person would serve as back-up.

If the taxi driver tries to run after the rest of the group, the back-up is in charge of stopping him.

Makati police said the kids come from slum areas within the vicinity.

They are known as "batang hamog" or "Spider Gang."

For the past year, police have reprimanded almost 200 minors, most of which were 15-year-old kids or younger.

The problem is that police cannot charge the minors.

The law requires them to turn over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development, who then turns over the minor to the parents.

Modus operandi

Lawyer Yves Gonzalez, director of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority's Traffic Discipline Office, described how the "bukas-kotse" youths prey on unsuspecting motorists.

He said the youths operate in a group and one of them opens the door on the driver's side of the vehicle.

Gonzalez said once the driver's attention is caught and runs after the boy, other members of the gang ransack the vehicle.

Makati police launched an operation Friday night to catch the errant youths.

However, the suspects were nowhere to be found as the flow of traffic was fast and the youths seemed to sense that law enforcers are going after them.

Gonzalez, meanwhile, urged motorists to ensure that their car doors are locked and the windows are closed to prevent being victimized by the "bukas-kotse" youths.

He said motorists should immediately inform police if they are victimized by the youths. - with a report from Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News