Cebu News

Oro Sugbu robbery: Police eyeing mastermind

Iris Hazel Mascardo, Romeo Marantal - The Freeman
Oro Sugbu robbery: Police eyeing mastermind
In full battle gear, members of the elite Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team scour an area in Cebu City where suspects in the Oro Sugbo Pawnshop and Jewelry Store robbery could be hiding.
Romeo d. Marantal

CEBU, Philippines — Authorities are looking at the identity of the possible mastermind of the robbery of the Oro Sugbu Pawnshop and Jewelry Store on Colon St., Cebu City last Saturday.

This was after the police already had in their custody four persons, one getaway vehicle, and the firearms used in the robbery last Nov. 25, when four to five men introduced themselves as agents of the National Bureau of Investigation to catch the security guard and the store staff off guard before robbing the store.

This developed as Mayor Michael Rama said he is sorry and takes "full responsibility" for the recent crime incidents in Cebu city.

He was referring to the Barangay Inayawan buy-bust operation that resulted in the death of a policeman, the Oro Sugbu Pawnshop and Jewelry Store robbery, and the Cebu City Environment and Natural Resources Office burglary, which all happened this month.

"I would like to make a pronouncement that I will take full responsibility in all of these and I am sorry that this is occurring," he said in an online press conference.

"If you ask me if I am pleased, of course not. That is why I am taking full responsibility," he added.

He also announced that he tapped retired army general Melquaides Feliciano, whom he appointed chairman of Metropolitan Cebu Water District board last Oct. 31, to help.

Rama is still in Australia for a family vacation, but he took time to speak via Zoom to the reporters who gathered at City Hall.

He started his vacation leave on Oct. 31 and it is supposed to end tomorrow, Nov. 30. He, however, had announced that he intended to extend it until Dec. 20.

His being on vacation for a long time also earned him a brickbat from former mayor Tomas Osmeña, who was asked to comment on the current peace and order situation.

“You report these to the Australian police. Mayor Rama lives there," Osmeña said.

Someone influential

On the investigation into the Oro Sugbu robbery, Police Lieutenant Colonel Gerard Ace Pelare, Police Regional Office-7 spokesperson, said the robbers were not acting by themselves in pulling up the heist, adding that someone influential may have masterminded everything.

“We cannot discount possibility nga ingon ani kadak-a nga trabaho, these are not planned by lowly individuals. Someone is orchestrating. We would like to assure you that this person is identified and that there are ongoing police operations (against him),” he said.

He said the police are already close to completing the investigation, as they have now in custody four individuals and confiscated a car that was used as a getaway vehicle as well as the firearms used in the crime.

It was reported that the unidentified robbers fled the scene onboard motorcycles. But CCTV footage showed that at least one of them, who was carrying bags containing the stolen jewelry, got off one of the motorcycles and got inside a red car that was just tailing them.

Pelare said the police already know the owner of the firearms and the vehicles used in the robbery, but he declined to give further information so as not to jeopardize the continuing follow-up operations.

Two of the four who are currently in the custody of the police after they were arrested in a checkpoint in Barangay Lamacan,  Sibonga, Cebu were identified as Dann Carlo Flores and Jordan Baquiano.

The other two were arrested by the Mandaue City Police Office for possession of unlicensed firearms and explosives and whose connection to the Oro Sugbu robbery are currently being confirmed.

Pelare said they are looking for three more as possible accomplices in the robbery, whose actual loot value is still unavailable because Oro Sugbu is still not done with its inventory of the items lost.

“Right now, by the numbers according to the report of CCPO (Cebu City Police Office), we have in custody four. We have identified another two or three, then the rest we will give it to you when naa nay result sa investigation,” he told reporters yesterday.

He assured the public that the police are focused on solving the incident and that there is nothing to be alarmed.

Additional Task

Meanwhile, Feliciano accepted the additional task laid on his shoulders and said he is in a position to help because he has the experience.

"As far as the peace and order situation in the city, I believe I can help on that based on my experience, particularly on the establishments of force multipliers," Feliciano said, in response.

Force multipliers are personnel (barangay tanods, anti-crime groups and volunteers, etcetera) who are not directly responsible for addressing the peace and order situation in the city but could provide valuable assistance, especially in visibility and intelligence gathering.

Rama said he already communicated with the CCPO officers his desire for them to "restore the confidence" of the people towards authorities.

"They (police) got to solve it, and they have to solve it," he said.

In particular, he told CCPO Director Ireneo Dalogdog to give him "a solution and conclusion" to the situation.

"I do not want that when I come back (to Cebu city) it is still the same thing. Di na pwede nako nga mga sige og hot pursuit, sige ta'g hot pursuit, kinahanglan pursuit with conclusion," he said.

Saying "we have to go back to the basics," Rama said City Hall should also revisit an existing ordinance that implements security measures around establishments.

He spoke with City Councilor Phillip Zafra, chairman of the City Council's committee on public order, for him to sit down and closely coordinate with the City's Police Coordinating & Advisory Council.

The mayor also called on establishments to really invest in functioning CCTVs.

"Where are the CCTVs? Number two, what is happening to the security of every establishment?" he said.

He likewise called for updates from the associations of bankers, pawnshops, and malls and the barangay clusters, and for the City to revive the "command center" where personnel view CCTV footage in real time.

Pelare said that in the course of their investigation, it was learned that the security guards of Oro Sugbu and the neighboring establishments were not armed or that they did not have firearms.

That is why, he said, it was recommended that security guards of such establishments and those of financial institutions should really be armed and know what to do during incidents like robberies.

He said PRO-7 would conduct a security briefing with establishment owners to let them know what measures to take to avoid being victimized by criminals.

In particular, he identified the installation of CCTV cameras and alarm systems that are operational, as well as the conduct of simulation exercises from time to time to see if the security measures implemented are working.

“The station commander sa (CCPO Police) Station 5 was able to talk about it (with Oro Sugbu employees). Mura'g wala kuno ma-press. You can understand because during that time mura'g na-rattle siguro sila. So, probably, very important sad kung asa nabutang ang button. Kay kung dili didto duol sa employee dili pa pud ma-press dayon," Pelare said

"So as I’ve mentioned, this will be part of our critique and analysis para we can come up with recommendations sa mga units on the ground during their coordination sa mga establishments,” he added.

He said they would also implement adjustments to patrol deployments, as a lesson from the Oro Sugbu incident, as it is really necessary to strengthen the presence or the visibility of the police. — (FREEMAN)

vuukle comment






  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with