MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/31 January) – A security guard was killed, another was seriously hurt, and a bystander was hit when robbers pulled a heist and fled with some P500,000 from bank employees at a busy intersection here midmorning today, the first such incident in this city.
Police Officer 3 Warren Coñales, Malaybalay City Police Office investigator, said in his initial report that one of the robbers gunned down security guards Pedro Cabalida and Pablito Padayao after they took a bag of cash from Gwendolyn Corrales and Marie Cheryl Bolivia, branch employees of the Development Bank of the Philippines.
The security guards were escorting the two employees, who were about to load at least P500,000 into the bank’s automated teller machine at the junction of Fortich and Moreno Streets, the report said.
The employees and the guards had come in an Isuzu Crosswind from their building near the provincial capitol, a DBP guard said.
Coñales told MindaNews witnesses saw six perpetrators, two of whom were armed.
He said a doctor at the Malaybalay Polymedic General Hospital declared that Cabalida was already dead when his body reached the hospital’s emergency room.
Padayao was seriously wounded and was undergoing an operation, he added.
Analiza Saludes, who was waiting for her turn to withdraw from the ATM, suffered a minor wound and was brought to the Bukidnon Provincial Medical Center. Coñales said she was discharged from the hospital early afternoon.
The gunmen fled on board a red Honda XRM motorcycle, one of the motorbikes that had waited on the sides, bystanders said.
The assailants sped toward Impalambong in the lower portion of the city. Police aboard a patrol car gave chase but they caught no suspects. MindaNews met their car on the road along the extension campus of the Bukidnon National High School in Airport Village.
MindaNews heard at least eight pistol shots which sent people near the crime scene screaming and scampering in all directions. Witnesses said one of the gunmen was hit in the leg and left his pistol behind, although he still managed to clamber aboard the motorbike driven by an accomplice.
The gun, a .45 caliber pistol, was recovered with four rounds of ammunition. Coñales, however, would not confirm if one of the gunmen was indeed hit.
DBP branch manager Nora Ismael declined MindaNews’ request for an interview.
Louel Tortola, former president of the defunct Malaybalay Bankers’ Association, said the incident is a threat to the local banking community.
But he added that the banks in Bukidnon’s two cities have been hearing of threats that robbers might target them and that they have augmented their own security because they no longer trust the police.
“The police should augment police visibility, but then again we go back to their claim of being understaffed,” he said.
He said that in the robbery against DBP today it was clear that the absence of police officers nearby was a factor. (Walter I. Balane with reports from H. Marcos C. Mordeno/MindaNews)