The online news portal of TV5
SURIGAO CITY – An LBC main branch here was robbed Saturday night by two unidentified men armed with a high-powered firearm and a short handgun, carting away close to a million pesos of the day’s earnings.
It was the second robbery of an LBC branch in Surigao in less than a year, and happened just a few meters away from a police outpost, fueling anxiety of a rash of crime in the city.
According to police, two suspects armed with a KG-9 pistol or an UZI, and a .45 handgun entered the establishment through the back door at about 6:10 p.m. “when they were about to close the establishment”.
The suspects reportedly carted away P872,794.84 “which was in front of LBC customer associate Guichelle V. Batawa.” Police said they received a distress call from LBC main branch team leader Bevina Jaboy Cosmiano at about 6:20 p.m.
Authorities declined interviews, saying they were awaiting the report of the Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) before issuing a statement.
An LBC employee who spoke on condition of anonymity said four female and two male personnel were inside the establishment when the robbery occurred.
The same source added there one man acted as lookout when two of the suspects, believed to be in their 30s and wearing black masks, quietly went inside.
The suspects were said to be walking behind two LBC personnel who went inside the office about the same time. Upon entry, the suspects immediately announced a hold-up.
Police are looking into the possibility of an “inside job.”
Another employee, who declined to be named, said the gunmen took away more than a hundred thousand pesos but added that it could be more “kay binandol man na kwarta ato tag-alsa” (the money they took were in bundles).
The police blotter noted that the company’s CCTV camera was “off from August 12, 14, 16 and 17, when in fact it is serviceable and functional.” It also added that the “statements of witnesses do not corroborate each other.”
Police Inspector Diomedes Cuadra, officer-in-charge of the Surigao City Police Office (SCPO), said “definitely” probers are looking into the possibility of an “inside job” but declined to elaborate.
Cuadra also denied that police failed to respond immediately even though a police outpost is only a few meters away from the incident.
Saturday night, authorities reportedly went on pursuit operations after unidentified men in a black motorbike along the Marcos highway suddenly changed their route upon reaching a police checkpoint and sped off towards Brgy. Looc, this city. The chase was cut off when a truck reportedly blocked a small road leading to the said barangay.
Cuadra said they followed the motor-riding men “but we are not sure if these were the same men.”
The LBC robbery is the second in less than a year. Another branch, located at Borromeo Street, was also robbed in broad daylight late last year. The incident is still unsolved.
Crime spree in city
In a related development, only a few days ago a citizens group raised concern over the apparent breakdown of law and order in the city. The Coalition of Surigaonons for Good Government Transparency and Accountabiity (COSSUG-TA) raised an alarm on the unsolved killings in the city and province.
The group called a press conference on Wednesday in reaction to Rep. Francisco T. Matugas’s pronouncement that the attempted assassination of Surigao del Norte Gov. Sol F. Matugas last August 13, is the handiwork of his political opponents.
COSSUG-TA spokesperson lawyer Victor F. Bernal instead challenged Matugas and his wife to resolve the rising criminality in the province and city by using “its wide resources”.
A day prior to the attempted shooting of Gov. Matugas, a Canadian national, identified as Harry Joseph Alfred Doyle, 62 years old, was also shot and killed in broad daylight by two unidentified gunmen riding in tandem on a motorbike.
Six incidents in 10 days
Since Aug. 3 to Aug. 13, six shooting incidents were reported in the city. The first involved the shooting of a salesman by two unidentified gunmen on a black XRM motorbike on August 3. The victim, 27 year-old Arante Montenegro, sustained 16 gunshot wounds from a .45 caliber gun and a still unidentified firearm.
A former councilor in Taganaan, Surigao del Norte was also shot a week later. At dawn Friday, August 17 a man was murdered at the city’s Boulevard, a popular entertainment area in the city. On the same day, a public elementary school was robbed by still unidentified men of school equipment and paraphernalia.
Cuadra insisted “the situation is still manageable; no need to worry, just help the police by providing information.”