Security in Surigao banks not lax – bankers group

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/13 November) – An official of a local bankers group refuted claims by Surigao City Mayor Ernesto T. Matugas that banks in Surigao City were either lax in security or had no alarm systems.

Matugas made the statement after personally checking the United Coconut Planters Banks-Surigao City which was victimized last Monday by four robbers who snatched at least 4.4 million in cash.

Bonifacio Estanio, president of Surigao Bankers Club called the mayor’s statement as totally false saying banks can’t operate without a security system.

“At first you cannot operate a bank without these devices. These are just among several requirements from the Central Bank of the Philippines,” Estanio told MindaNews at his office Thursday.

Estanio, manager of Philippine National Bank in Surigao City–Gaisano Branch, said bank employees were just caught by surprise.

“When you’re caught by surprise you couldn’t do things right to respond to the situation, mostly you’ll get black or red,” he added.

He said bankers in Surigao del Norte will meet this month to discuss security measures for their business.

Last Monday, four armed robbers barged into the UCPB and carried out the heist in just less than a minute.

Police are yet to identify suspects in the incident.

The city police station is less than a kilometer away, while the provincial police office is just two blocks away from the UCPB.

Business establishments in the city have tightened security after the robbery.

Afraid that robbers would strike again, Fortunato Parinas, owner of Parinas Jewelry Store in Surigao City has added a security guard.

Three years ago his store was robbed and at least four million pesos were taken by the robbers. One of his workers was killed while trying to fight back.

“The police are useless. The taxes we pay to the city government are useless and the city and police have failed to prevent these robbers,” Parinas said Thursday afternoon.

Like Parinas, other businesses are not taking chances by hiring additional security guards or implementing tighter security measures.

On Thursday afternoon, the security department at UCPB’s head office came to conduct an internal investigation among bank employees.

An investigating body from a security agency named Ultra also arrived at the said bank to conduct its own probe. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)