Cebu News

Ex-cop with possible robbery ties arrested

Caecent No-ot Magsumbol, Romeo Marantal - The Freeman
Ex-cop with possible robbery ties arrested
The Manila Police District (MPD) on August 28, 2023
STAR/Edd Gumban

CEBU, Philippines — A retired Cebu City police officer with alleged possible links to the Oro Sugbo Pawnshop and Jewelry Store robbery was arrested Thursday dawn for illegal possession of firearms.

Venancio “Tatay Ben” Abella of Sitio Ibabao, Brgy. Mambaling, Cebu City yielded a .45 pistol with two bullet magazines, a .38 revolver, and assorted bullets following the implementation of a search warrant issued by Regional Trial Court Judge Anacleto Debalucos.

A former police officer, Abella used to be assigned with the now defunct Theft and Robbery Section (TRS) of CCPO. Yesterday, he was arrested by Mambaling Police Station personnel.

Police Lieutenant Colonel Gerard Ace Pelare, Police Regional Office (PRO)-7 spokesperson, said they are investigating Abella for knowledge and involvement on last Saturday’s robbery on Oro Sugbo, which is located on Colon St., Cebu City.

Meanwhile, alleged mastermind Jigger Geverola and suspects Dann Carlo Flores and Jordan Baquiano underwent inquest proceedings yesterday for their supposed involvement in the robbery.

Flores and Baquiano were riding the red Honda Civic Sedan identified as one of the robbers’ getaway vehicles when they were intercepted at a police checkpoint in Brgy. Lamacan, Sibonga, Cebu.

Geverola was tagged as the mastermind based on their extrajudicial confession that Geverola was the one who ordered them to take the car to a mountain barangay in Sibonga’s neighboring town of Argao.

Pelare said he is confident that the CCPO has strong evidence to support the filing of criminal complaints against them.

“I believe Cebu City Police Office obtained extrajudicial confessions. Also, naay pieces of evidence nga nakuha and some of the suspects, actually, during the operations, naay nakuha nila nga firearms and explosives. So, aside from the robbery, naa sad silay atubangon nga kaso,” he said.

He said PRO-7 is also in close contact with their Mindanao colleagues because of a high probability that the Oro Sugbo robbers are connected to a large robbery group in Mindanao.

“It appears that this (Oro Sugbo robbery) is done by a mixture of local players or local boys, as we call them, ug naa say kadtong gi-import. We are now trying to identify kinsa tong mga tawhana nangari diri which were utilized during the robbery incident,” Pelare said.

Despite what happened, he assured that Central Visayas remains safe, adding that they were methodical and respectful of the laws when they conducted the investigation and subsequent arrest of suspescts.

"Our assurance is that your Police Regional Office-7, under the leadership of Police Brigadier General Anthony Aberin, respects due process and we will conduct operations in accordance with our police operational procedure", Pelare said.

And while he said he was happy and thankful with the actions taken by the police, Mayor Michael Rama, a lawyer, said the police should also be able to recover the stolen pieces of jewelry to have an “airtight” case.

“Nagpasalamat ta that there is a breakthrough. But…kinahanglan that the case will stand the test of judicial scrutiny…. Asa na man ang jewelry? They have to recover it since those items are considered as ‘corpus delicti’, or the body of the crime…. We have to build the case so that those who are responsible will be imprisoned,” said the mayor, who is still on family vacation in Australia.

For his part, Acting Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia said the police, especially CCPO and PRO-7, continue to enjoy 100 percent City Hall’s trust and confidence.

He said this during the blessing and turnover of the Cebu City Police Office Indoor Firing Range yesterday morning.

And during the ceremony commemorating Andres Bonifacio, he also called the police local heroes, as he thanked CCPO, led by Police Colonel Ereneo Dalogdog for solving the robbery incident.

“In such a short span of time they were able to do what was mandated of them. And they were able arrest and catch perpetrators of such a very bold and brazen crime,” Garcia said.

“For me, these are the modern-day heroes also that for sure keeps the peace so we may be able to live knowing that we are safe in the city of Cebu,” he added.

He said he is meeting CCPO and PRO-7 officials for a command conference to thresh out security preparations for the Christmas season.

“Kahibaw ta nga usahay ang mga perpetrators mugara sa panahon sa Pasko,” the acting mayor said.

“Kinahanglan padayong gihapon ang atong vigilance, hard work, especially criminality knows no vacation, knows no time. Anytime of the day it (crime) can happen,” he added.

On the turn-over of the firing range that the City Government funded, Garcia said it is a testament of the City’s support for CCPO.

“Nagpakita lang na nga ang Cebu City Government, headed by Mayor Mike Rama, is all out in supporting the Philippine National Police…, giving so much support in terms of personnel allowance, gasoline, and equipment,” he said.

Garcia said he really saw to it to show up in the blessing and turnover ceremony because he wanted to congratulate the police for the swift action in solving the Oro Sugbo robbery.

Apart from the firing range, City Hall also donated to CCPO recently 56 basic assault rifles and four sniper rifles. — /RHM (FREEMAN)

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