A walker’s hazard

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Sunday, June 29, 2014


IT WAS bound to happen. It shouldn’t have happened. But it did happen.
In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, around 1:30, two men on a motorcycle waylaid me on Uytengsu St., Cebu City while I was walking to get a ride home.

I heard someone say, “Bai, bai. Hunong sa, bai.” I continued walking, thinking it wasn’t for me. Then a motorcycle pulled up beside me. When I turned around, I was face to face with the barrel of a silver revolver.

First of all, I didn’t think they meant to rob me in a well-lighted portion of the road. Had I stopped when they first called out to me, I wouldn’t have been able to see the gunman’s face.

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But they did. And I saw.

The gunman was very fidgety. He couldn’t hold still. His eyes were all aglazed. They looked like they were about to pop out of their sockets.
In hindsight, he reminded me of Bela Lugosi’s Dracula just as he was about to pounce on his helpless victim.

I instinctively put my hands up, like what they do in the movies. The gunman asked for my wallet. I told him it was in my bag. He asked for my bag. I handed it to him.

Throughout this very brief exchange, the gunman never stopped moving. To an onlooker, we were locked in a dance. He was Fred. I was the prop. And it had to be in black and white.

He instructed me not to turn around as he got on the bike and they sped off, with the gun still trained at me, I presumed.
So I did as I was told. To a tee.

A colleague asked how I felt during the ordeal. To be honest, it all happened so fast, around 10 seconds, I didn’t have time to internalize things. Then, anyway.

There was no my-life-flashing-before-me moment. And no, it never occurred to me to resist.

Frankly, it really helped that I had downed a bottle of rum (a senior T5 to the habitué) earlier that night so my reaction was, to say the least, muted.

The first thing that came to my mind as soon as they were gone was to report the matter to the police. And Police Station 2 just happened to be around the corner, on R. Landon St. and Jones.

And no, I didn’t stagger on my way there. Nor did I stammer. But yes, I was giving off that tell-tale smell of chicos while I told the cop on duty what happened.

I later found out that I was the second person to be victimized in the same area in a span of five days.

The other victim was a woman, but she didn’t report it.

Last Thursday afternoon, I visited Chief Insp. Wildemar Tiu, head of Police Station 2.

I told him he should deploy cops, or at least conduct roving patrols in Sambag 1 and 2, which are basically parts of the extended campus of the Southwestern University.

Both barangays are home to many students and professionals in the BPO industry, not to mention the original residents, who are mostly middle-class.

Police shouldn’t concentrate on areas that are considered drug-infested or crime-prone. I’m sure residents there know how to take care of themselves, while students and young professionals are easy pickings.

The chief inspector said he has discussed the matter with the barangay captain of Sambag 1. In fact, he has offered to assign a cop to accompany barangay officials during patrols.

Tiu admitted that his men are spread thin. I could see that and I understood.

Undermanned and, I was later informed, with no patrol car, Police Station 2 just does not have the logistics to well protect residents in its area of responsibility. Its personnel even have to use their own vehicle during operations. And spend for the fuel.

As for me, I made sure I walked the same route at the same time the next night. I just refused to play the victim. Plus, I still don’t have my driver’s license and my ATM replacement card. I need to save my money for… chicos.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 29, 2014.

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