THE robbery pulled at the J Centre Mall in Bakilid, Mandaue City last Saturday (Oct. 12) was big-time by Cebu standards. And the first epic one hereabout in eight years or so.
Three jewelry shops, a money changer, and a pawnshop at the center of the city’s business district were struck simultaneously. Fifteen robbers, most of whom turned out to be “exports” from Ozamis City, were the perpetrators. They hit the five establishments at 7:26 p.m. per police blotter, with no violence on person, except the gun-whipping of a security guard. And they fled, the police chase stymied by the peak-hour traffic.
The violence came later during the arrest and after detention of the suspects.
2011 heist at Fuente
Mandaue police fumbled or was obstructed by the congestion on the streets. No law enforcers were seen at the mall and its premises, to deter crime or to go after criminals. But it was not yet shown how quickly police responded to the alarm. Besides, when was the last time a robbery of such scale was pulled in Cebu? On Sept. 5, 2011, during a failed holdup at Robinson’s Place, along Fuente Osmena, Cebu City. (The score then: two security guards and two robbery suspects killed; three other persons, including two cops, wounded.)
Apparently, police had left mall security in Mandaue to its private security guards, who except those at the front doors, reportedly carried no guns.
Bogo police starred
It was the Bogo police that made the arrests (seven of nine) and the recovery of some of the stolen goods. But they also did the killings (four of nine).
At the scene of the robbery, no civilian, except one security guard, was injured. The robbers didn’t fire their weapons at the mall, unlike in the 2011 heist at Fuente where there was actual shootout.
After the Mandaue robbery, nine of the 15 men were arrested and four of those collared were killed while one was wounded. Bogo police recovered two guns, two chisels and two cutters, along with P345,000 in P1,000 bills. Still to be retrieved were pieces of jewelry, cash and cell-phones valued at P136 million-–in sum, the bulk of the loot-–which must have been taken by one of the eight men who got away.
The shooting occurred in Pulambato Wharf in Bogo City, 96.8 kms. Or about two hours, 24 minutes away (or longer, depending upon traffic). No shot was fired at the crime scene, where exchange of gunfire could’ve been disastrous on civilians who were at the mall. The robbers obviously exercised restraint.
That provided some relief to the public. As to the violence on the suspected robbers, there has been no hue and cry so far over “violated” human rights. The killing of one suspected robber who reportedly traded shots with police closing in on him at the Bogo wharf had plausible explanation. The other incident, which resulted in the death of three suspects, was lamely explained: they tried to grab the guns of the cops who arrested them. Accepting it would be believing that the police guards were inept. Even in movies, they don’t use that archaic excuse anymore for getting the detainee killed.
Kind to cops
Yet public reaction has so far been kind to the police. They did a good job, thanks to the much improved communication system that alerts police in other areas.
Or the public could be less sensitive to killings of suspects. If drug dealers, coddlers and addicts are being gunned down in encounters with the police, with more frequency and less outrage from citizens, what sympathy could flow for robbers who inflicted terror in a public space where people least expected it?