MORE DARING HEISTS
Robberies expected to rise even more as Christmas draws near, police say
Despite attempts by law enforcers to scare and catch criminals, the number of robbery incidents in Cebu City has increased in September.
Data from the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) revealed that 61 robbery cases were reported in the city last month.
This is almost three times higher than the the 24 robbery cases reported over the same period last year.
Cebu City police director, Senior Supt Royina Garma, director of the CCPO, said she expects the robbery cases in the city to increase even more as the Christmas season draws near.
She said it is during the “ber” months or the period from September to December when many robberies happen.
“These are the times when people are in need of money. Robbers are aggressive,” Garma said in an interview.
The police, she said, are doing everything to stop robbers from preying on victims.
Most of the robbery cases in September 2018 took place in areas under the jurisdiction of the Mabolo Police Station.
The trend may continue in October if law enforcers cannot do more than what they are currently doing.
Last October 3, Loraine Temple, a call center agent, was gunned down by robbers after she refused to hand over her shoulder bag along Pope John Paul II Avenue in Barangay Mabolo.
Shortly after her death, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña announced on his Facebook page that he will create a bus system to ferry graveyard-shift workers to the business process outsourcing (BPO) firms at the IT Park.
“There will also be widespread installation of CCTV (closed-circuit television) cameras in the streets to act as a deterrent to potential crime and to monitor and respond to any incidents that occur,” Osmeña said.
In 2017, the Mabolo Police Station also had the highest number of robbery cases among Cebu City’s 11 police stations with 126 robbery cases.
From January to October 2018, they still lead the list with 49 cases.
Chief Insp. Dindo Juanito Alaras, commander of the Mabolo Police Station, said they just have a very wide area to secure, compared to the other precincts.
Mabolo Police Station is assigned to secure 15 barangays in the city: Carreta, Luz, Hipodromo, Kasambagan, Mabolo, Apas, Lahug, Banilad, Busay, Malubog, Pung-ol Sibugay, Babag, Tabunan, Buot Taup, and Bonbon.
“We don’t only lack equipment, we also lack personnel. We find it difficult to monitor all places that is why we need the help of the tanods,” Alaras said in an interview.
Mabolo Barangay Captain Niña Mabatid said they also lack tanods but they planned to hire more next year once the proposed budget increase will be approved by the city council.
While the Mabolo Police Station topped the list for most cases of robbery in the city, the Fuente Police Station improved from 3rd place in 2017 to 6th place this year.
From 59 cases in 2017, the Fuente police only received 17 robbery reports from January to October 2018.
Fuente Police Precinct commander, Chief Inspector Eduardo Sanchez was delighted with the improvement.
“It only means that our interventions are working. Our area comprises six barangays and it is difficult to monitor all especially when this area is known for a lot of street crimes. Yet they (robberies) have actually declined,” said Sanchez.
However, a recent robbery around Fuente caught the attention of more than 6,000 netizens online after a certain Ysabelle Baje posted her “traumatic” robbery experience outside a cafe on F. Ramos street.
Ybaje, in her Facebook post, recounted how a man approached her and other students outside a cafe, who at that moment, did not have a security guard on duty and held them at gunpoint and got their money and valuables.
Ybaje lost her wallet containing P500 but remained safe as she was able to hide inside the cafe when the robber left to rob the other students outside the cafe.
“I thought I was going to die. He had the freaking gun so close to me. Just a click away from death na gyud to (It was just a click away from death),” Ybaje wrote in her post.
“So please lang ayaw mo kumpyansa kay even sa coffee shop nga daghan og tawo, ma-holdup gihapon mo. Dili lang sa jeep or maglakaw alone or with friends, sa dark or mingaw nga places naay holduppers,” she added.
(So please don’t be careless because even in a coffee shop with a lot of people, you can be robbed. Not only on the jeepney or when walking with friends, or around dark places can robbers lurk.)
Sanchez said that they are closely monitoring the area.
She also urged private establishments to hire their own security guards in order to keep their areas safe.
Both Garma and Sanchez believe that the robbery incidents are closely related to illegal drugs since most robbers are under the influence of narcotics when they do criminal acts,
They said robbers also resort to stealing in order to buy illegal drugs.
Garma admitted that with the lack of manpower, keeping the streets safe remains a challenge in Cebu City and the police needs the cooperation of the community.
She urged the victims to file cases against robbers.
“Huwag po tayong magpatawad. Huwag tayong maawa. Ang Pilipino is madaling maluoy. They take advantage of this and mang-biktima na naman sila. Magiging cycle ito,” said Garma.
(Let us not forgive. Let not us not pity them. The Filipinos are easily moved. Robbers are taking advantage of this and they will rob again. This is becoming a cycle.)
Garma is hoping that the upcoming Philippine National Police (PNP) graduates who will be assigned to Cebu City will become a solution to the lack of manpower in the city and hopefully will curb the presence of street crimes.
Although they are yet to obtain data from the police showing a rise in the number of robbery cases, the Cebu City government requested the CCPO to start increasing police visibility especially in areas where crimes often happen.
“We are yet to obtain data from the police but if ever there is indeed a high rise in robbery in Cebu City, we would like to ask support from the police, and possibly increase police visibility,” Councilor Dave Tumulak said in a phone interview with Cebu Daily News.
Tumulak, who is the city’s Deputy Mayor on Police Matters, also requested residents to be wary of their surroundings especially when in the streets.
“When outside, in the streets, or even inside PUJs (public utility jeepneys) or while walking, it’s advisable not to wear flashy jewelry. And as much as possible, not to display gadgets,” said Tumulak.
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