About six to eight armedmen robbed the Central Negros ElectricCooperative in Bacolod Cityand took P3.6 million in cash that was set to be picked up by an armored vehicle for bank deposit at about 9:15 a.m. yesterday.
The robbers, who carried short firearms, did not conceal their faces with masksand only wore bull caps when they entered the CENECO cash division office after disarming five guards, City Police Director Senior Supt. Ricardo de la Paz said.
De la Paz said the robbery lasted for about 3 minutes and the suspects escaped on board motorcycles after getting the money. Some of the suspects went out through the main door of the firm, while another got out through a window, he said.
Aside from the money, the robbers also took four .9-milimeter pistols and a .38 caliber revolver from the security guards, he said.
Security Guard JV Jubay of the Lifeguard Security Agency and assigned at the main entrance of the CENECO office said one of the suspects pushed him to the floor, while the other took his firearm.
Jubay said he was hesitant to fight back as he was overpowered.
A consumer who was at the cashier’s area at the time, and who requested that his name be withheld, said one of the suspects threatened them and told them not to move.
Sharon Canoy, assigned at the cash division, said she was with four other employees when one of the suspects, wearing a red polo shirt, barged into the office and asked where the cash vault was.
Minutes later, another man in an orange checkered polo shirt, carrying two short firearms, told them to drop, Canoy said. After taking the cash from the vault, the suspects immediately left, she added.
Canoy also said one of the suspects fired his gun at the glass window to warn them not to move. The bullet hit the right side of a Ford Everest vehicle of CENECO that was parked behind the building.
TASK FORCE FORMED
A special investigation task group led by De la Paz and composed of personnel from the Bacolod City Police Intelligence, Investigation Branch, Regional Intelligence Unit and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group has been formed for the swift resolution of the case.
De la Paz said the crime was veryorganized, precise and swift, it is possible that the suspects had contacts inside CENECO.
The suspects knew what time the money would be removed from the vault and they were knowledgeable about the office layout, he said.
CENECO president Arnel Lapore said CENECO does not have closed-circuit television cameras, which were supposed to be installed when they hired the services of Villmapi and Lifeguard that recently took over from the JJL and the New Vita security agencies.
Lapore directed the management to install CCTV within 72 hours and also ordered an internal investigation on how the suspects were able to enter the building with guns, unnoticed.
Police Regional Office-6 Director Chief Supt. Cepriano Querol ordered the relief of Police Station 4 commander, Chief Insp. Ulysses Ortiz who will be replaced by Supt. Leonardo Borromeo.
Meanwhile, the leaders of the Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry still have trust and confidence for the Bacolod City policemen despite the incidents involving business establishments.
MBCCI president Frank Carbon said robberies are part of the risks in the business sector, but the responsibility of preventing such incident lies with the owners.
Carbon said he believes de la Paz will use all the forces and resources at his command to solve the incident and capture all the perpetrators.
He also asked the city government to install CCTV cameras in critical intersections and crime-prone areas in Bacolod for easier monitoring and the safety of the public.
CENECO operations temporarily stopped yesterday but resumed at about 1 p.m. after the police investigation was completed.
Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia said that although the robbery incident at CENECO was an isolated case, he has instructed de la Paz to resolve the case swiftly and arrest the suspects.*APN