PIKIT, North Cotabato -- Police authorities here impounded 148 motorbikes, mostly without registration papers and could have been used in criminal acts, amid an intensified manhunt against gunmen who have murdered at least 10 people for the past two months in the locality.

Chief Insp. Romy Castañares, Pikit police chief, said along with the impounded motorbikes were 48 passenger tricycles with dubious permits.

Chief Insp. Aldrin Gonzales, speaking for the Philippine National Police regional office, said the campaign against unregistered motorbikes was an effort to prevent killings with suspects using motorbikes as escape vehicles.

Among the 10 persons recently killed were foreigners, a Pakistani and an American, who were shot and robbed of cash and valuables. The foreigners killed by highway robbers were 60-year-old food merchant Jeff Michael Keith, a retired US Marine serviceman and Pakistani buy-and-sell trader Etesham Ulhaq.

Keith, who was with his wife in delivering pastries and other food products, was shot dead and robbed of his Php200,000 cash on Oct 29, five days after Ulhaq was also killed and robbed of his Php12, 000 money collection.

Gonzales said aside from the campaign against illegal motorbikes, the police also provided manpower to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in anti-drug operations.

Several men, whose motorbikes were impounded, were also detained for illegal possession of firearms and illegal drugs.

“Appropriate charges are being prepared against them,” Gonzales said. (PNA)