CEBU, Philippines — Four of 15 suspects of the robbery at J Centre Mall in Mandaue City evening on Saturday, October 19, were killed while five others were arrested during hot pursuit operations by the police.
Three of the suspects were killed in Bogo City while another was killed in Sogod located three towns away. Bogo and Sogod are in northern Cebu.
In Bogo, the police intercepted seven men on board a beige Innova at the checkpoint at the Polambato wharf at around 11 p.m. Saturday after the seven reportedly matched the descriptions of the suspects that fled J Centre Mall after the robbery.
The seven reportedly looked suspicious as some were sweating and one of them was wounded.
They were arrested after the police verified their identities, said Bogo Police chief, Major Emily Santos.
“Akong duty personnel didto, medyo nakabantay nga naay suspicious, naay gipaningot, naa puy usa didto na wounded (My men thought they looked suspicious, some were sweating, and one of them was wounded),” Santos said.
As the suspects were being brought to the police station, three of them allegedly tried to wrestle the firearms away from the cops escorting them, prompting the police to shoot.
The three were identified as Kevin Andales, 25, of Mizamis Occidental; Wilfredo Suerte Enguito, 47, of Tangub City; and Philip Faburada of Tondo, Manila.
Their companions were identified as Roel Nano Sumingit, 35, of Misamis Occidental; Jun Candelaria, 38, of Bicol; Julivyn Quirante, 43, of Tangub City; and Arnel Cimafranca, 38, of Misamis Occidental.
Meanwhile, at 1 a.m. yesterday, authorities spotted a certain James Anthony “Macky” Gomez in Sogod who was about to pick up a man named Glen Tairos also at the Polambato wharf. Tairos was suspected to be the leader of the robbery group.
Authorities decided to escort Gomez to the Polambato wharf but when they arrived there, Tairos allegedly fired his gun, which prompted the police to fire back and hit the suspect.
The police confiscated a .38 caliber revolver; cash amounting to P340,000; two chisels; and two glass cutters from Tairos.
Colonel Jonathan Abella, the chief of the Mandaue Police, said the suspects belong to a robbery group based on Ozamis City.
They were reportedly on the way out of Cebu Island for Masbate when they were intercepted.
Abella said the group is behind some robbery incidents in Bacolod and Consolacion town in Cebu.
At J Centre Mall, the suspects allegedly robbed Ginros Gem and Jewelry, ORO China Wedding and Engagement Ring, MLhuillier Jewelry, Jay-ann Jewelry, and I Change Money Changer, at around 8 p.m.
According to the Subangdaku police, the suspects took jewelry worth P130 million from the pawnshops and cash amounting to P6 million from the money changer.
Initial report released by the Mandaue Police said the suspects took the jewelry out by breaking the glass shelves they were displayed in. Using their guns, they also beat up the security guard who intervened. The guard is now in the hospital.
Abella said it appeared that the heist was well-planned and organized with each suspect having a specific role. They reportedly managed to slip their guns into the mall by confusing security.
“Nakita didto sa CCTV nga ang nakasud didto walay armas, naka-create lang siya ug commotion… katong naa sa gawas, nisud nga naay armas… mao to, synchronized na dayon ilang gibuhat (As captured by the CCTV camera, the first one who entered did not have a gun. Once inside, he started a commotion, and the others with firearms followed, moving in a synchronized manner),” Abella said.
Still, Abella said they are looking into the mall’s security.
Mandaue Mayor Jonas Cortes himself called on the mall’s management to cooperate in the police investigation.
He also encouraged all establishments in the city to “beef up their security measures as well as to come up with an evacuation plan if ever situations such as this arise.”
Cortes said he will meet with the Peace and Order Council to assess the city’s security situation and urged city residents to report suspicious individuals to authorities.
Several agencies are taking part in the follow-up investigation, including the Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO), Mandaue Police Office, Philippine Coast Guard-7, and Police Regional Office-7.
The suspects arrested are now under the custody of Mandaue Police station. — With Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon (FREEMAN)