A MASKED man barged inside the LBC Express branch in Barangay Guizo in Mandaue City yesterday morning, shot dead an employee who resisted and fled with P2,000 cash.
When police arrived at the crime scene, LBC employee Eugenio V. Agmata, 49, was already dead, with gunshot wounds in the chest and abdomen.
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Mandaue City Police Office (MCPO) Director Olando Ualat admitted there were lapses in the deployment of law enforcers in the city because the area on M.C. Briones St. where the LBC branch is located had no policemen at the time.
Investigation and Detective Management Branch (IDMB) officer SPO1 Kerwin Bejer said the robbery was pulled by four men at 8:45 a.m. Three acted as lookouts outside the branch.
The one who went inside was estimated to be 23 to 25 year old and of slim build.
Once inside, the man pointed a .45 pistol at LBC employee Trixia C. Montero and demanded cash while dragging her toward the back of the office.
Realizing that Montero had no money and seeing Agmata at the back counting money, the suspect pushed her inside the stockroom and pointed his gun at Agmata, who immediately raised his hands.
IDMB investigator SPO1 Arnulfo Quiachon, who interviewed Montero, said she shouted at the victim, â€œIhatag na lang na, ayaw na og sukol (Give him the money. Donâ€™t fight back).â€
Through the slightly opened stockroom door, she saw the victim raising his arms but moving towards the gunman. She then heard gunshots and she shut the door.
Before the robbers left, public utility jeepney dispatcher Ronnie Montenegro, 24, who was in front of the establishment, took a close look at one of the two get-away drivers. He described the driver as of large build but short, wearing blue shirt, denim pants and rubber shoes.
Police have no description of the other two robbers.
The gunmanâ€™s motorcycle is a blue XRM Honda with plate GM-2779. The other get-away vehicle was a red motorcycle with the numbers 7753 in its plate.
Quiachon said they are still verifying the plate numbers.
The two motorcycles headed north.
During the robbery, Ualat was in Basak Police Station, some four kilometers from the crime scene, checking policemen. He said patrol policemen were at the MCPO for orientation on their new deployment.
He said Mobile Patrol Group (MPG) policemen designated to take their places were still lining up for gasoline at the Mandaue City Department of General Service (DGS).
That explained the absence of police forces at the crime scene, Ualat said.
He said the MPG should have coordinated with their troop deployment supervisor. The supervisor should then ask station commanders to temporarily deploy men in the area to fill the vacuum.
Ualat asked DGS to improve the system of gasoline distribution to patrol cars. He requested the City to change the time for civilian drivers of patrol cars to start their
work. Instead of 9 a.m., the time banks open, drivers should start work at 7 a.m.
For his part, Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) Director Patrocinio Comendador ordered all police units, particularly the Mobile Patrol Group (MPG), to provide security to LBC branches in the city.
The Mandaue City Police Office (MCPO) called up the CCPO for assistance in setting up blockade in the Talamban area, anticipating the robbers might headed in that direction.
Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) Director Jesus Gaquing, on the other hand, said the police in the neighboring towns also put up blocking forces.
Vice Mayor Carlo Fortuna raised the need to ban â€œwrap around helmetsâ€ contained in an ordinance that Mayor Jonas Cortes vetoed last March 16. The helmets make it difficult for witnesses to identify the robbers, the ordinance said.
The lookouts and the gunman in yesterdayâ€™s robbery were all wearing full-face helmets.
But City Administrator Briccio Boholst said the city ordinance banning wrap-around crash helmets is not clear, as all helmets are considered â€œwrap aroundâ€ the head.
â€œTell me which helmet is not a wrap-around and which is allowed by the city ordinance,â€ said Boholst. The law requires motorcycle riders to wear helmets, so an ordinance
that bans helmets is contrary to law, he said.
Yesterday wasnâ€™t the first time an LBC Express branch in Cebu was robbed.
In November 2008, an LBC branch in Barangay Banilad Cebu City lost an estimated P80,000 in cash and cellular phones to four robbers. Police said the establishment had no security guards or surveillance cameras that time.
The same observation was noted by police in the LBC Mandaue robbery yesterday.
Comendador said that after the 2008 robbery, they recommended to the management that they hire security guards and install surveillance cameras. He said the police can only recommend, but it is up to the management to heed their advice.
In a report over radio dyLA, Leonardo Libradilla, LBC Cebu area head, said they did not hire guards for its branches because there are cases that security guards are actually spies working for robbery groups.
Libradilla reportedly said that based on their study in Manila and in Cebu, some security guards have been found to be in cahoots with robbers.
He said it has been the policy of the company not to keep large sums of money in their branches.
Revolving funds are only at least P5,000, he said.
Libradilla said the company will provide assistance to the family of Agmata.
Libradilla described Agmata as a dedicated worker who has been with the company for more than 15 years.
Agmata left behind four children and his wife Maria Liza. The eldest is 15 years old while the youngest is four.
In a radio report, Agmataâ€™s widow Maria Liza said she was still shocked of what happened.
She said Agmata was a good provider and a responsible husband.
She is appealing to the police to find and arrest the robbers to give justice to her husbandâ€™s death. (OCP/JTG)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 7, 2009.Linkback: https://tubagbohol.mikeligalig.com/index.php?topic=21026.0