Police to review Sinulog office theft case

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Saturday, January 18, 2014


TWO years after the Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI) lost P1.7 million to theft, the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) has yet to solve the case.

SFI executive director Ricky Ballesteros said he hopes the police will catch the thief soon.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said he told the CCPO to continue investigating the case.

On Jan. 16, 2012, a day after the Sinulog Grand Parade, someone took about P1.7

million from the SFI office inside the Cebu City Sports Center (CCSC).

The police arrested Joselyndon Jabagat, a security guard who worked at the CCSC, suspecting he was involved in the theft. But the qualified theft complaint filed against him was dismissed by the Office of Cebu City Prosecutor for lack of evidence.

Lesson

Ballesteros said the incident served as a lesson for Sinulog organizers.

“It was a big slap to us. We thought it was very organize, very peaceful. It was a perfect Sinulog but ako mismo na-surpresa ko kay pag-sud nako nahibung ko kay daghang mga police (I was surprised to find police personnel),” he said.

To prevent another theft, Ballesteros said security at the CCSC has been tightened.

Security personnel at CCSC and the Sinulog Foundation office inside the sports complex have been increased to 20 from 10. The CCSC also has 32 closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras, which were installed last year yet.

Like Ballesteros, Jabagat also hopes the police will finally solve the case.
He could not forget his ordeal.

The 42-year-old security guard spent only 13 days in jail but the incident marred his reputation. When prosecutors dismissed the charge against him, he was able to return to his family and his life.

“Gusto gyud ko masulbad ni para mahibawan kinsa ang suspek (I want the case solved so the real suspect will become known),” Jabagat told Sun.Star Cebu.

Romana said there is a “slim chance” of solving it because it happened two years ago.

“But we will try our luck,” he added.

He said he will direct his key staff to review documents and evidence pertaining to the case to look for other leads.

“If it's necessary to bring back the witnesses, we will do it. We will double our efforts this time,” he said.

But he said that they will have to begin the review after the Sinulog Grand Parade.
Chief Insp. Romeo Santander, head of CCPO's intelligence branch, said he is waiting for Romana’s directive to review the case.

Evidence

Santander was part of the first composite team tasked to investigate the incident.
Among the evidence he wants reviewed is the bolt cutter that may have been left by the suspects in the SFI office to mislead authorities.

Jabagat told Sun.Star Cebu he will gladly answer questions.

Sun.Star Cebu found Jabagat in his house in Barangay Carreta, Cebu City.

“Wala man sad gyud ko’y dapat kahadlukan. Wala man ko’y gitago (I have nothing to be afraid of. I have nothing to hide),” said the father of three.

Jabagat, who was able to return to work as a security guard, was looking after his daughters while his wife Marilyn worked at a canteen at the Asiatown I.T Park.

Tomorrow, during his day-off, he will bring his daughters to watch the Grand Parade.

The SFI funds that were stolen included the P880,000 that Cebu City Hall gave for out-of-town contingents; P750,000 for the talent fees of a choreographer and dancers for one of the contingents; the P7,000 bonus of CCSC's administrative officer Helen Talisik; P10,000 in petty cash; and CCSC's ticket sales of P8,000. A digital camera worth P9,000 was also taken.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 18, 2014.

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