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Yearender 2023: The biggest crime stories in Cebu

By: Emmariel Ares - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | December 29,2023 - 03:00 PM

CEBU CITY, Philippines — The year 2023 has been quite an eventful time for Cebuanos, particularly in terms of crime occurrence.

Throughout the year, the number of various types of criminal activities spiked up and caused citizens to worry for their own safety as they leave their homes.

With 2023 coming to a close, the CDN Digital team reviewed and compiled some of the biggest crime stories that took place in Cebu this year.

These are stories that many individuals might remember to have caused a buzz for some time and made an impact to the community.

Here are some of the biggest crime stories in Cebu in the year 2023: 

Gruesome slashing of a fruit vendor in Cebu City

Yearender 2023

Here is a screenshot of the CCTV footage of a man slashing the neck of a female vendor in C. Padilla St., Cebu City and fleeing. | Contributed via Paul Lauro

It was just another normal day in downtown Cebu City on January 30, 2023, particularly along C. Padilla Street, when a jealous man slashed the neck of her live-in partner after an altercation.

The gruesome attack was caught in a closed circuit television (CCTV) camera where the footage showed when the assailant, Edwin Lumacad, slashed the neck of his live-in partner, Bernadeta Zamora using a knife.

The footage showed that Lumacad casually walked away, leaving the woman struggling to stay alive by the sidewalk.

Fortunately, nursing student Angyl Faith Ababat, who together with her classmates were buying materials for their project, were in the area when the attacked happened. Ababat and a friend helped the wounded woman, gave her first aid, until the paramedics arrived.

The woman survived. The assailant was chased by passersby, was caught and was turned over to police.

Ababat was later commended by the school and she was recognized for her courage in saving Zamora’s life.

Mass killing of dogs in Brgy. Guadalupe

Yearender 2023

Among the crimes that shocked Cebuanos, especially the fur-loving locals, this year, was the case of dog killings on May 12, 2023 in Guadalupe Heights, Cebu City.

Photos of five dead dogs of the Go family, lying side by side in front of the family’s house made rounds online and earned the sympathy of netizens to the dogs’ owners.

Beside the bodies of the dead dogs named Daya, Kobe, Batman, Bruce, and Kikay, were the poison that the family suspect was used to kill the dogs.

This dog killings left a mixed emotion of anger and loss to the family, who treated the dogs as family.

In response to this incident, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama called on the city’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CCDRRMO) to assist the police on looking into cases of animal cruelty in the city.

SRP cash incident: P4 million flies out of bag

Yearender 2023

Cash scattered along the Cebu South Coastal Road at the SRP after a collector’s bag opened while driving along the viaduct.

Like a scene from an action movie, cash bills went flying along the Cebu South Coastal Road in Cebu City on July 4, 2023. This was after the zipper of a money bag – a backpack full of cash – of a collector on a motorcycle suddenly opened.

This resulted to an alleged estimated P4 million in cash being strewn all over a portion of the road.

Some of the motorists passing the area at that time could not believe what they saw, stopped, got off their vehicles and started picking up the money on the road and then left the area after they got their fill of the cash, leaving the collector, Johnny Barientos, in distress.

When the news reached the public, netizens flooded the internet with messages of sympathy for Barrientos and requested for the persons, who took the money to return it.

On July 6, at least P2 million were handed over by several honest individuals.

With the question of why Barrientos was carrying  large sums of cash in an unsecured setup, Cebu City Police Office director, Police Colonel Ireneo Dalogdog, ordered for a background check to be done on Barrientos.

Dentist stabbed in the eye inside clinic in Cebu City

Yearender 2023

The clinic of Dr. Charles Sia in Barangay Kamputhaw, Cebu City. Perpetrators attacked Sia and pricked his eyes while handcuffed and held at gunpoint. | via Paul Lauro

Dr. Charles Sia, a 41-year-old dentist, was sent to the hospital after he was attacked by two assailants inside his clinic in Barangay Kamputhaw, Cebu City on July 5, 2023.

The perpetrators, who claimed to be delivery riders, entered the clinic in search of Sia and pointed a gun at him.

After handcuffing Sia and his secretary, the men then began beating up Sia while stating, “Daku kay ka atraso sa akoa.”

They then pricked both of Sia’s eyes with an unidentified weapon and left after.

This lead investigators to believe that the suspects had no intention to kill Sia but only wanted to teach him a lesson because of a personal grudge.

After the suspects were identified, police conducted an operation to catch them.

Sia, on the other hand, was able to slowly recover from his injuries after he was rushed to the hospital.

The brutal murder of Reah Mae Tocmo 

Yearender 2023. Reah Mae Tocmo

A photo of Rhea Mae Tocmo taken from her Facebook page. Tocmo was found dead, stuffed inside a box and left at the side of the road in Barangay Tisa, Cebu City on Monday, July 17, 2023.

The killing of 19-year-old Reah Mae Tocmo troubled citizens in Cebu for months. 

The young woman’s lifeless body was found stuffed inside a cardboard box abandoned by the side of the road in Sitio Mohon, Barangay Tisa, Cebu City on July 17. 

Her arms and legs were tied with aluminum cables, her face had been smashed and burned, and she had bruises all over her body.

The woman was later identified to be Tocmo who is a native of Panabo City in Davao del Norte and came to Cebu to work without her family knowing about it.

When Tocmo’s missing smartphone was turned over 10 days after she was found, police recovered CCTV footage and came up with a person of interest.

Simeon Gabutero Jr., the man in the footage, was arrested in Barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City due to an armed person alarm. He then pointed out Roberto Hisman Gabison as Tocmo’s killer.

However, the results of a DNA testing showed that Gabutero’s blood was found under Tocmo’s fingernails. The man eventually confessed to his crime of killing the girl, whom he claimed to be his girlfriend, out of jealousy. 

Harassment of armed men in Dumanjug before BSKE

Yearender 2023. Dumanjug harassment: Police to file charges vs barangay captain and one other suspect

A group of armed men allegedly kicked and pointed guns at a group of individuals in Barangay Tapon, Dumanjug, Cebu on Sunday, October 29, 2023. | Screenshot from video courtesy of Tapon Unya

Hours before the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE), a video of a group of armed men kicking and pointing guns at some bystanders in Barangay Tapon, Dumanjug, Cebu went viral online.

One of the suspects later turned out to be an incumbent barangay captain at the time. With the use of the video, police identified the four suspects responsible for the harassment.

However, one of those suspects, Godofredo Mansanadez, was gunned down in a shootout with law enforcers in Barangay Kolabtingon.

Police then filed charges of grave threat and attempted homicide against them, including the barangay captain who won as barangay councilor during the BSKE.

Dead man believed to be killed by his dog, Spike

Yearender 2023: Spike the dog and the dead man

Police inspect the scene where a 63-year-old man was found dead in Barangay Lawaan 1, Talisay City, Cebu on early morning of Thursday, September 28,2023. | Paul Lauro

The story of Spike, the dog who was wrongfully blamed for the death of his master in Talisay City, captured the public’s interest on September 28, 2023. 

The 63-year-old George Mayol was found dead inside a hut used as a restroom in their lot with his clothes torn in some parts.

Due to the extent of his injuries, Mayol’s family suspected that he was attacked by his dogs. particularly the one named Spike. 

Many netizens expressed their opinion that it could not have been the dog’s fault. It was later proven that Mayol died due to a heart attack based on his death certificate.

With various individuals expressing their willingness to adopt Spike, he was placed under assessment to check if he was ready for adoption.

When Spike was finally cleared, he and the rest of the pack were brought to Alexa Yna’s dog shelter in Carcar City where they now get to enjoy a new life. 

Shooting of police officer disguised as poseur buyer

Year-ender 2023. Policeman killed in buy-bust operation gone wrong.

Police Corporal Ryan L. Baculi from the Regional Police Drug Enforcement Unit (RPDEAU). | Photo from PRO-7 FB

Police Corporal Ryan Languido Baculi was simply carrying out his duties during a buy-bust operation that turned into an armed encounter which cost him his life on November 15, 2023. 

Baculi was the undercover policeman acting as a drug buyer when the target of police operation — two suspected drug dealers — sensed the presence of policemen in the area.

The drug dealers then shot Baculi four times, killing him, and then they fled the area.

The killing of the policeman prompted two private individuals to offer P50,000 reward for information on the then still at large suspects, identified as Atong Rafols and Ramil Salazar.

On December 13, one of the suspects, Rafols, was killed in a shootout with policemen in Purok 2  Campo, Barangay Tapul, Talisay City, when he refused to surrender to authorities.

Police also filed charges of obstruction of justice against Rafols’ girlfriend and friend who helped him hide. Meanwhile, a hot-pursuit operation was conducted for the arrest of Salazar.

At Police Corporal Baculi’s wake, he was awarded with a Philippine National Police (PNP) Heroism Medal.

He was also laid to rest on November 22 in Carcar City.

Daring pawnshop robbery in Colon Street

pawnshop robbery

Four armed men were captured in a CCTV footage robbing a pawnshop and jewelry store in Colon street, Cebu City on early Saturday morning, November 25, 2023. | Screenshot of contributed video via Paul Lauro

Heavily armed men robbed a pawnshop and jewelry store in broad daylight along the busy streets of downtown Cebu City on November 25, 2023.

The men posing as NBI agents entered the pawnshop then declared a robbery.

The robbers cleaned the pawnshop of pieces of jewelry in less than 3 minutes and fled.

Police first took into custody Norman Lopez Manuel and his live-in partner Marcelyn Sonor after they were identified as persons of interest in the robbery.

Soon after, they arrested Dan Carlos Geverola Flores and Jordan Ramos Baquinao onboard a red sedan used as the getaway vehicle.

Both suspects named  Jigger Geverola as the alleged mastermind. On the same day of Geverola’s arrest, another suspect, Jerum Cambarijan, was also caught by police. 


2023 Recap: Deadly road accidents

Aside from crime incidents, a significant number of road accidents have also caused the deaths throughout the year in various parts of Cebu.

These deadly accidents highlighted the importance of responsible driving and being patient while on the road to avoid life-threatening situations.

Before the year ends, here are some of the most notable road accidents in Cebu in 2023:

Couple, young daughter perish in tragic Danao accident

Danao car accident kills 3

The Mondejar couple’s black sedan was a total wreck after colliding with a wing van around noon in Tuesday in Danao City. The couple and their young daughter perished in the accident. | Contributed photo via Paul Lauro

Devastating news reached the relatives of the Mondejar family from Macrohon town in Southern Leyte on February 21, 2023 after the young couple and their daughter died in a car accident.

Husband and wife Erwin Bacalso Mondejar and Imelda Mondejar, along with their daughter Erin Bliss Mondejar, lost their lives when their black sedan collided with a wing van in Danao City. 

Their son, however, survived the accident as he was seated at the back of the vehicle.

The eldest child, Imer Betelgeuse Mondejar, was the sole survivor of the accident. The family spend the day at a zoo in Carmen when tragedy struck.

The driver of the wing van told police that they spotted a black sedan speeding towards them from the opposite lane.

As part of their investigation, police considered the possibility that the the driver of the car, the father, fell asleep at the wheel.

Community doctor dies in road accident in Argao

Argao accident kills doctor

Cops examine the accident site where a dentist working for the Department of Health died in a vehicular accident in Argao, Cebu. | contributed photo via Paul Lauro

On the early morning of September 4, 2023, a road accident in Argao town in southern Cebu claimed the life of Dr. Annie Irene Rufo.

Rufo’s sports utility vehicle rammed into the rear end of a truck parked along the highway in Barangay Bulasa.

Police believed that the doctor might have fallen asleep at the wheel on her way to work.

The tragic death of Rufo, who is known as a public servant dedicated to helping the underprivileged, was mourned over by her family and companions in the healthcare industry.


2023 Recap: Fire incidents

Data from the Cebu City Fire Office (CCFO) showed that Cebu City has had a tough year as a total of 316 fire incidents hit the city. This grim statistics was based on their record from January to December 12.

Fire, being a tragedy that is usually unpredictable, can change lives in an instant. In the previous months, many individuals have lost loved ones and everything they worked hard for because of fires.

Looking back at the blazes that destroyed homes and took lives in 2023, here are some of the biggest fire incidents that happened in Cebu this year.

High-rise building catches fire in Cebu City 

Fire hits condominium building in Cebu City on April 14.

Smoke engulfs the upper part of the high-rise condominium building in Barangay Kasambagan, Cebu City at the height of the fire on April 14. | Paul Lauro

A high-rise condominium in Barangay Kasambagan, Cebu City, was engulfed in flames, which started at past 2 p.m. on April 14, 2023. It took firefighters nine hours to put out the fire.

The nearly P4 billion worth of property went up in smoke while the building was under construction and workers were inside.

Firefighters had to utilize aerial ladders and lighting towers as they battled the fire that was raised to the Task Force Bravo at 4:38 p.m.

At 7:50 p.m., the fire was under control and at past 11 p.m. that day, it was declared fire out. A fire marshal pegged the estimated damage to property at P3,981,600,000.

Four kids killed in Brgy. Tisa house fire

FIRE: 4 sleeping kids die in Tisa fire.

A family unexpectedly lost all three of their children and their 11-month-old cousin after a they burned to death when a fire broke out inside their house in Barangay Tisa, Cebu City on early Thursday morning, November 23, 2023. | Contributed photo via Paul Lauro

After getting trapped inside their burning house, 4 minor children died in Sitio Upper Capaculan, Barangay Tisa on November 23, 2023.

The victims were siblings aged 1-year-old, 6-years-old, and 10-years-old. Their 11-month-old cousin, who also died inside the house.

The children were left alone inside the house on that fateful morning after their mother left to prepare for the family’s food selling business. 

However, their mother came back to the devastating news that all her children were burned inside their house.

Their father, who is a delivery driver, sobbed after hearing that his children suffered such a painful death.

300 homes destroyed in Lapu-Lapu fire

Pusok fire

A huge fire engulfed a coastal community in Barangay Pusok in Lapu-Lapu City on Tuesday afternoon. | PIO photo

A fews days before Christmas, a tragedy stuck in a coastal community in Sitio Maria in Barangay Pusok that left thousands of Oponganons homeless. 

A huge fire razed their homes on December 12, 2023 hours after a blaze destroyed a firecracker factory in Barangay Babag.

At least 300 homes were burned and at least five individuals were killed in the fire. The displaced families were placed in various evacuation centers in the city.


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TAGS: Colon, dogs, nursing student, pawnshop, Police Corporal Ryan Languido Baculi, Reah Mae Tocmo, robbery, spike, SRP cash incident

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