CEBU

Briones: Questions

On the go

I AGREE with the management of J Centre Mall not to allow their security personnel to carry firearms inside the premises.

Had they been armed on the night of Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, when 14 to 15 men robbed three jewelry stores, a money changer and a pawnshop, there could have been a bloodbath. Because, surely, the security personnel would have tried to stop them. With their guns. All hell would have broken loose.

There would have been many victims. Someone might have even been taken hostage. Think of all the worst-case scenarios had this been the case.

But it’s not. And that’s the reason firearms are not allowed inside the premises, to prevent shooting encounters that would put their shoppers in danger. At least, that was the explanation of Gaspar Malanquis, J Centre Mall security and safety manager.

However, the mall’s closed-circuit TV cameras showed the suspects acting strangely when they entered hours before the robbery.

That should have raised some alarm bells. But apparently, it didn’t.

After all, we know that everyone who enters a mall is subjected to a pat down. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it is known by its other name, “frisking.” Of course, no security personnel is created equal when it comes to frisking. Others are more thorough when they check you for weapons and whatnot. Others are more coy, satisfied to give shoppers a gentle tap at the back of the waist.

Security personnel also require shoppers to open their bags or whatever it is they’re carrying before they’re allowed entry. With a baton stick, security personnel quickly rummage through the shoppers’ things.

So, given that these are the norms in malls nationwide, how were the 14 to 15 men able to enter and roam mall premises unnoticed?

And that’s what Police Colonel Ildibrande Usana, deputy regional director for administration, is training his sights on.

Although he could not give a “categorical answer” if the robbers got help from the mall guards, Usana said Mandaue City police investigators are considering the security personnel as persons of interest.

However, there is a more pressing issue that the police have to address without insulting the public’s intelligence.

“We have to assume that procedures have been followed,” Usana said, when grilled about the death of four suspects who were shot dead after they were handcuffed behind their backs and loaded into the police vehicle. The suspects allegedly tried to grab their captors’ firearms. That made the “neutralization” of the robbers “legitimate,” he said.

Yeah. And I’m 36 years old.


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