Unitop robbery: inside job - Lim
December 30 2006 - Tagbilaran CITY Mayor Dan Lim minced no words in describing the Thursday robbery involving the ill-fated Unitop General Merchandizing: it was an inside job. Only three days earlier or on Christmas Day, the Unitop branch in Ormoc City went up in flames killing 26 persons. The Tagbilaran robbery was the latest in a series of break-ins and hold ups in this city. Executed in daring fashion, the latest caper netted P500,000 in loot topping the recent hold up of a gasoline station owned by George Lim where P20,000 was lost to the suspects. Both robberies were pulled off in broad daylight. According to Mayor Lim, he came to the conclusion that it was an inside job after he invited for interview the Unitop secretary identified as Rufa Balingit and the store manager Robert Chua. Also invited for questioning by Mayor Lim was Rene Raut-raut of Bilar said to be the live-in partner of Balingit.
Balingit a trusted employee of the store is familiar with the establishment's daily cash in and cash out. She also knows the store's deposit schedules and the banks the supposed deposits are going to be made. As the store's way of avoiding a pattern, the management made it as a policy to deposit in different banks. A day before the Unitop robbery, the combined sales after a four-day holiday (from Dec. 23-26) were deposited without any hitch. It was not known how much in store sales were deposited that day but according to police sources, it went on smoothly because management decided to allow the guard to take the company's service van in going to the bank instead of the usual motorcycle. This time also, Balingit was waiting for the guard at the bank Deposit time, the following day was a different story. Balingit and the security guard identified as Dalmacio Casimsiman, Jr. walked the short distance from the Unitop Store to the FCB downtown branch, one of the depository banks.
This time, the robbers, waited for their prey near the Caltex Station at the corner of CPG Avenue and M.H.del Pilar St . The bank is located just beside the gasoline station. According to police sources, the store has an average of from P100,000 to P200,000 in daily sales but Thursday's take was boosted by the previous day's 5:00 pm supposed deposit. Balingit was supposed to deposit the late afternoon sales of the store but said she forgot to do her routine. The store deposits its sales for the day at least three times and the last is at 5:00 pm. Police are looking at the possibility that a burglary in the store sometime last June may have a connection with Thursday's robbery. In that break-in, some P400,000 were lost to the burglars.
HOME IN A MORBID PACKAGE
For the ill-starred security guard, it would be a different reunion when his family gathers home January 1, 2007. Certainly it's no good year to start with Casimsiman, Jr. coming to Tangkigan, Mabini as a package, not with the frilly holiday wrapper but in something more morbid. Commenting on the spate of robberies in this city, Police Chief Jacinto Cesar said they are leaving no stones unturned until the identities of the culprits could be opened. Cesar, who used to be head of intelligence at the provincial police office said the criminals did not even care to hide their faces, while the two casually walked towards the waiting motorcycle a few meters away. The incident happened along the busy Carlos P. Garcia Avenue . According to police re[ports, the security guard was escorting Balingit and was a few steps from the bank they would be transacting their business when the robbers announced the hold-up. When Balingit refused to hand in the bag and instead hid behind the guard, one gunman shot the secretary and missed by the skin of her teeth. The bullet entered the guard's breast, exited his back. Witnesses said the robbers then grabbed the bag and casually crossed the road to their get-away vehicle. In less than two minutes, the robbery was over with the suspects fleeing aboard a motorcycle. The guard sustained a gunshot wound in his breast and back. He, however, expired the following day at the Gov. Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital.