Cebu News

Cops nab “nurse”

Bryner L. Diaz - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines – Prince Niño Celadenio, the baby who was abducted from his parents at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center has been found along with the woman who allegedly disguised herself as a nurse and ran off with him two days ago.

The neighbors of call center agent Melissa Londres, 27, of Barangay Lahug, Cebu City, allegedly became suspicious after she was seen taking care of a baby while not being pregnant at all. The neighbors called an informant who then called the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.

Chief Inspector Delfin Bontuyan, Criminal Investigation and Detection Team Metro Cebu chief, came and knocked on Londres’ door for a long time but received no answer. It was Londres herself who let him inside.

Bontuyan asked Londres about the baby but later saw for himself the boy sleeping in a portable crib. The CIDG personnel secured the baby and then arrested Londres after they saw her face matched photos of the woman caught in security camera footage taking the baby from VSMMC.

She did not resist arrest; police also took with them her live-in partner Philip Almerilla, 25.

Later at the CIDG-7 headquarters, Londres kept changing her statements.

However, one constant claim she made was the child was hers, saying she gave birth to him in a taxi, but when asked if she was willing to undergo testing to prove the baby was hers she said it was useless because she has already been accused of the crime.

She said the boy’s name was Phil Winfred Almerilla and that she had yet to secure a birth certificate for him.

She also denied she was the woman filmed taking the baby from VSMMC. She also said she will just admit taking the child so the parents of the baby will forgive her and not press charges.

Police also took Almerilla into custody to determine if he was involved in the crime.

Even as he cradled his son, Jonathan Celadenio, the father of Prince Niño, positively identified Londres as the woman who abducted his son. He is set on filing kidnapping charges against the suspect.

Superintendent Marlon Tayaba, CIDG-7 chief, said the two appeared to be high on drugs at the time of their arrest because they could not speak coherently.

He said a possible motive behind the crime could be the suspect’s want to have a child.

In a press briefing yesterday hours before the recovery of the baby, DOH-7 Assistant Regional Director Dr. Sophia Mancao said the DOH-run medical facility might be lacking in proper security measures.

She said upon reviewing media reports and the incident report submitted by VSMMC Medical Chief Dr. Gerardo Aquino Monday afternoon, they found no lapses on the policies, procedures and protocols implemented by the hospital.

“Kun sa procedure there is nothing wrong with that so far.  We look into their policy and procedures on the safety measures wa gyod ta’y nakita nga naa’y sayop,” she said.

As part of hospital policy and procedures, Mancao explained that Londres posed as a nurse wore proper attire and protective gear — white scrubs, surgical gloves and a mask — for hygiene and identification purposes.

She added that the baby was not forcibly taken from the mother by the suspect, who asked to bring the baby with her to the laboratory near the exit, reportedly for anti-dengue vaccine. She said laboratory tests may be required to get an updated health condition before discharge.

As to security measures, Mancao said there might be lapses and VSMMC needs to improve its security protocol.

She said delivery rooms and wards are temporarily transferred to the St. Arnold Janssen Trauma Center, across the hospital’s administrative building, since the building for the delivery room and OB ward is still being constructed at the other side of the hospital premises.

The Labor and Delivery Rooms, Obstetric Operating Room and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit were temporarily transferred to the second floor of the Trauma Center on October 21.

She said the current situation at the center explains how anyone can have easy access to the facility without being noticed, adding that the incident happened during lunch and visiting hours.

“The security measures there dili appropriate for that kind of facility, which is temporary. Didto murag naa sila’y lapse,” she said, adding that the OB ward or delivery room should not be open to just anyone.

Inside  job?

Mancao further said they are not discounting Londres was working with someone from the hospital. She said the crime was done flawlessly, even the guard stationed at the hospital billing station did not notice Londres when she passed by the area.

The hospital is still conducting an investigation of its personnel headed by Aquino. The hospital management is also implementing a stricter policy, requiring all medical and regular employees to wear IDs and proper uniform.

Carlito Ravirap, hospital security shift-in-charge, said they are now checking all IDs before allowing personnel into hospital premises.

“Required na gyod namo pasuoton og ID kay basin malutsan napud ta kay mahulog nga lapse pud ni namo,” he said. He admitted that it was common practice to not bother checking the IDs of all personnel entering the hospital because of their sheer number.

VSMMC spokesman Nonoy Mongaya affirmed that they are not capable of checking all the people entering and exiting the facility. VSMMC has more than 1,000 employees. It caters to an average of 1,200 patients and 700 to 800 out-patients daily and 2,400 significant other or relatives of the patients.

At least 80 security guards or 27 personnel in every shift are assigned at the hospital. The hospital also has 16 CCTV cameras installed inside and outside buildings.

Prior  target

Before abducting the newborn in VSMMC, Londres was at another maternity house wearing the same disguise.

According to reports from TV Patrol Central Visayas, employees of the Cebu Puericulture Center and Maternity House located just near VSMMC said a woman dressed in scrubs and wearing a mask, allegedly went to the CPCMH and approached the security guard.

She allegedly introduced herself as an on-the-job trainee, asked the security guard where the labor room was and got directions.

However, labor room personnel admonished her and told her they are not accepting on-the-job trainees. After this, she was seen leaving the facility and heading to VSMMC.

It was at around noon last Monday when Londres approached Jonathan Celadenio, and his wife Jayvee who was then carrying Prince Niño.

Londres said she had to bring the infant and the mother to the laboratory allegedly for anti-dengue vaccine of the baby but told the mother to wait outside.

Jayvee said she started to worry after 15 minutes of waiting. She started to inquire from the laboratory personnel and found out no lab tests were scheduled for her baby. The father then alerted the hospital officials and reported the incident to the police.

Be  wary

Acting Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella ordered all medical facilities in the city to heighten their security to prevent another case of abduction.

“Anything can happen so what is important, let us all be watchful and on guard especially on places where there are nursery or children because these individuals are helpless and they can just be picked up and carried away by anyone,” he said.

Further, Labella urged officials from the Cebu City Medical Center to be more cautious in overseeing the security of its patients. — Kristine B. Quintas, Ma. Fatima R. Secuya, Mylen P. Manto and May B. Miasco/BRP (FREEMAN)

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