NOT for tourists but of the criminal kind. Groups of robbers, scammers and other criminals seem to have found in Cebu an alternative destination after they were exposed in places where they used to lord it.
That is what came out of the several bloody incidents that took place in Metro Cebu last week.
Take the case of the bust on the Phoenix EA Holding International Inc. Tuesday night, Oct. 22, 2019. Its officials were arrested when police exposed them for conducting an investment scam here. Those arrested came from the cities of Cagayan de Oro City (including a former vice mayor of that city) and Davao and a town in North Cotabato.
Police said that, based on complaints of those who put in money in the firm, the Phoenix EA Holding International Inc. used to operate in Mindanao but moved to Metro Cebu last April when cases were filed against them. When news of their arrest spread, these investors from Mindanao came to Cebu to make sure the company officials account for their deeds.
The robbery that happened at the J Centre Mall in Mandaue City on Oct. 19 was also one that was undertaken by out-of-towners. Police said those arrested, and the four killed in the process of their arrest, included some who were from Ozamiz and Tangub cities in Misamis Occidental, where the Parojinog robbery gang originated. The Parojinog gang, known in the 1990s as the Kuratong Baleleng, is suspected to be responsible for big-time robberies and for illegal drug trafficking.
Then there was the killing of Mayor David Navarro of Clarin, Misamis Occidental, Friday afternoon, Oct. 25, as he was on his way to face charges for allegedly mauling a massage parlor attendant in Cebu City. Police said Navarro was on the “narco list” or list of public officials in the illegal drug trade as exposed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
There were claims the night before he was ambushed and killed that some quarters made it known to police and media that Navarro was going to be killed in Cebu. It was probably why he wore a bullet-proof vest on his way to the prosecutors’ office but that didn’t stop his killers.
A report from the National Capital Region Police Office to the local police said Mayor Navarro was the same person known by the name of Dante Navarro who is the leader of the Alferez robbery group based in Ozamiz City. This particular gang was believed responsible for the J Centre Mall robbery.
What lures these criminal groups to Cebu? Next to Metro Manila, Cebu is the hub where big business and big money are present. Cebu’s being a metropolis and an education center in the south of the country make it attractive to both law-abiding and criminal persons.
It is also a bad sign that these individuals find Metro Cebu alluring because criminals may find the setting conducive to their illegal ways and that they can have a chance of pulling it off here. In these instances, they were wrong. Still, those incidents demand that authorities improve peace and order here.