Nalzaro: Nagging questions on mall heist


THERE was a bank robbery in the US. After the robbers left, the bank manager told the bank supervisor to call the police quickly. The supervisor says: “Wait, a minute sir. You have embezzled an undisclosed amount from the bank. Right? Why don’t we put or add that amount you embezzled to the amount robbed by the robbers?” “Good idea,” the manager said. (This is what we call converting an unfavorable situation to your advantage).

The next day, TV news reported that $80 million were carted by the robbers in that bank robbery. The robbers who watched the news counted and re-counted the loot, but they could only count $30 million. The uneducated robbery gang leader got angry and complained. “We risked our lives and we only carted $30 millions. But the bank manager with a snap of his fingers took $50 million without risking his life. It looks like being a corrupt bank manager than to be a thief is much better. (This is what I call “seizing the opportunity.”)

I am not saying that this happened in the recent robbery incident in the establishments that rented spaces at the J Centre Mall along AS Fortuna St., Mandaue City, that were victimized by a robbery gang last Saturday night. But there are some nagging questions that need to be answered and clarified as to the value and the amount of the items and cash carted away by the robbers.

The police reported that a total of P136 million in cash and worth of jewelry items were carted away by the robbers from two jewelry stores, two pawnshops and a money changer with the following breakdown: Ginros Gem and Jewelry declared an estimated loss of P20 million worth of jewelry; Oro China Wedding and Engagenent ring, P10 million; M. Lhuillier Jewelers, P50 million, and Jay-Ann Jewelry, P50 million; while I-Change Money Forex, a money changer, declared some P6 million in cash.

Did the owners of these establishments honestly declare the robbed items and cash? Was there a thorough inventory of the lost items or were these just an estimate? I raise this matter because I myself have a suspicion that the lost items and cash were bloated for insurance purposes. Except for Lhuillier and Oro China, I wonder if the other jewelry shops displayed very expensive items like pure gold and diamonds that cost millions of pesos. As far as I know, these establishments are not high-end jewelry stores.

What about that money changer? Money changers like some stores and lending firms would frequently deposit their income to the bank.

There are bank personnel who would pick up their deposits on that day. Why did they have some millions in cash on hand before the firm closed? Well, I know there is no way for the police to check the veracity of the actual missing items and cash. But the police should not swallow the owners‘ claim hook, line and sinker. I hope the establishment owners are honest enough to declare the actual amount carted away by the robbers. I hope nobody “took advantage of the situation” like in the joke I cited above.

The second question is: Considering that majority of the robbers were either killed and arrested, where is the loot now? With the suspects who are still at large? That means that only two or three suspects carried the loot after the robbery? I am not accusing the police of absconding with the loot, but this should be clarified by the first responding police team that arrested and killed the majority of the suspects. Labaw pa ni sila sa “ninja” cops.

The J Centre Mall robbery case has again revived the debate on whether plainclothes and uniformed policemen will be allowed to conduct patrol and do intelligence work inside the malls with their firearms.

Some mall managements prohibit policemen even in proper uniform to carry their firearms inside the mall so as not to scare the shoppers. This is also to avoid engagement inside that would jeopardize and endanger the lives and safety of the shoppers.

Not too long ago, because of the frequent bomb threats in the shopping malls in Metro Manila and other parts of the country, the Philippine National Police (PNP) ordered mall managements to allow uniformed policemen to conduct patrol inside the mall premises with their firearms in coordination with the malls’ security personnel. But not all malls complied with the order as their primordial concern is also the safety of their shoppers. True enough. What about if there will be shooting incidents that might occur inside? More lives and limbs will be at risk.

The intention of the robbers is only to rob valuables items and money. They will not shoot or hurt people unless their lives are at stake with the presence of armed policemen and security personnel. But they will not hesitate to shoot and kill people if they are provoked and cornered. I think it’s high time to revisit this particular aspect in security measures in our malls and commercial establishments. Which is more important to protect? Those valuable and expensive items or human lives?


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