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Fear prompts two to plead guilty in P7.5-million jewelry heist

The suspects – Noel Davis, Kirby Abanilla and Frederick Ybañez – listen during the arraignment of their case at the sala of Judge Geraldine Faith Ycong yesterday afternoon. JOY TORREJOS

CEBU, Philippines - For fear that he might have the same fate as his pal, a suspect in the P7.5 million-jewelry heist in Basak San Nicolas and another companion have entered a guilty plea before Judge Geraldine Faith Econg during the arraignment of the simple robbery charges that were filed against them.

Kirby Abanilla of barangay Suba and Frederick Ybañez of Ozamis City pleaded guilty of the charges and were sentenced to two to four years of imprisonment for the crime.

Noel Davis, who hails from Davao City, on the other hand, pleaded not guilty of the charges.

Admitting before the court that he fears for his life after his pal Jeromy Polistico was shot dead after posting bail last Friday, Abanilla admitted in open court his participation in the robbery.

The confession was made after he told Judge Econg that he fears for his life, but said that he did not participate in robbing Jennifer Dela Cerna, a jewelry dealer just outside a fastfood outlet in Basak San Nicolas, Cebu City.

 Abanilla said that he was made to wait inside the Mitsubishi Adventure, which served as their getaway vehicle, while the three – Polistico, Davis and Ybañez went out and robbed the jewelry dealer.

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Abanilla, who was called to the witness stand, said that he already had an inkling that a robbery was about to happen when he overheard Ybañez talking to a certain “ma’am” over the phone.

Ybañez, on the other hand admitted his participation in the robbery. He claimed to have poked a gun at de la Cerna as well as the other people in the area to dissuade them from helping the victim.

He said that he also participated in planning the robbery by doing a surveillance of the area and identifying the victim.

Ybañez and the other suspects were arrested after a brief chase last July when they tried to take off with the jewelry.

The four were on board a Mitsubishi Adventure, which was intercepted when they were caught in a traffic jam at Tres de Abril St., Labangon.

Ybañez in his affidavit also tagged Jennifer Enriquez, who returned the jewelry to de la Cerna shortly before the heist as involved in the robbery.

Ybañez alleged that it was Enriquez, who gave them information about the jewelry that she was returning to de la Cerna.

Enriquez, who was taken into custody by the police, has denied the accusations against her.

She however reportedly said that she was surprised to find out that the lawyer defending her in an estafa case is also the lawyer of Roy Quimada, who was also tagged as suspect in a robbery incident here.

A fifth participant in the heist, a certain Junjun Gamanay, according to Ybañez was able to flee as he was on board a motorcycle.

Enriquez, on the other hand, did not show herself to court yesterday after she was hospitalized at Miller Hospital for still unknown reasons as stated by her lawyer Atty. Helen Acas.

However, she was ordered to submit a medical certificate in court on the matter. Her arraignment was moved on September 1.

At least 10 Bureau of Jail Management and Penology jail officers were detailed in and outside the court to safeguard the suspects.

The extra precaution has been taken as Polistico was gunned down minutes after he was freed on bail. – Jasmin R. Uy /NLQ   (THE FREEMAN)


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