CLOSED-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in the suspects’ rented safehouse revealed the identities of the 12 armed men who robbed Central Negros Electric Cooperative (Ceneco) last Friday, March 2.
Police were also able to identify the get-away vehicles used by the robbers.
In a joint press conference by Bacolod City Mayor Evelio R. Leonardia, Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO) Director Ricardo dela Paz and BCPO operation head Police Superintendent Santiago Rapiz, dela Paz presented the pictures and identities of some of the suspects but he declined for the meantime to divulge the location of the safehouse.
Dela Paz said the suspects are members of the Dipolog-Ozamis-organized crime group that specializes in big-time bank robberies.
The group has linked with the remnants of notorious Kuratong Baleleng and Parohinog crime groups, said the police chief.
Suspect number 1 was identified as Reynaldo Bacolod alias “Toto” and “Jay Mera”, the leader of the group. A resident of Las Piñas City, he was involved in two bank robberies, said the police.
Suspect number 2 was identified only through a picture taken during the incident, while the third suspect was identified to be the one armed with a caliber 45. pistol during the heist.
Suspect number 4 is an unknown suspect who was armed with Uzi machine pistol, while suspect number 5, also unknown, wore sunglasses and was armed with 9 mm pistol with stainless upper receiver.
The sixth suspect, meanwhile, was identified as Joseph Cararamo, a member of the Dipolog-Ozamis group engaged in bank robberies. He was identified as the one on board a motorcycle and was the last to arrive to fetch his companions.
Suspect number 7 was the one who pointed a gun at a security guard and was seen transacting at the cashier a week before the incident.
The identities of the other suspects who were captured in the CCTV cameras are still being investigated.
Dela Paz said that reports indicate the group is still in Bacolod City.
"We received reports that the suspects even returned to the place of incident and conducted investigation, asking trisikad drivers as to the investigation being conducted by the police. We believe that they are still in the city or in the province," he said.
"This is an organized crime group specializing on bank robberies. They always hit and victimize banks, commercial establishments, offices with more or less P10 million about to be victimized. This is one of their modus operandi to see to it that the amount supposed to be seized is not less than P10 million," he added.
Since the group fell short of their P10-million target in Ceneco, police believe that there will possibly be another target.
With this, the BCPO chief issued advisories to different banks to be vigilant and to report immediately suspicious-looking personalities in their premises.
The group that victimized Ceneco is believed to be the same group that planned to rob RCBC Bacolod last year.
"You can recall that we issued the same advisories alerting all banks in the city that a group arrived in Bacolod and planned to rob banks in the city. But the group failed to execute their plan due to our alertness and pro-active measures. We also believe that the group which victimized Ceneco was the same group which robbed East West Bank in Iloilo City in January 2010 where the robbers carted off around P13 million," dela Paz said.
Police analyzed and studied the suspects' modus operandi of carrying out their plan in less than three minutes. The group in Iloilo was also armed with Uzi and majority of the suspects were Cebuano-speaking.
Police identify get-away vehicles
Two of the three motorcycles and the pick-up used by the robbers as get-away vehicles were also identified by the police through the log book of the security guard in their rented safehouse.
The Suzuki Raider black motorcycle with plate number GI 9503 is registered under the name of Gerardo Saniel of Blancia Molave, Zamboanga del Sur, while the XRM black and white motorcycle with plate number GM 5723 is registered under the name of Ben Luzana of Manayag, Zamboanga del Sur.
The Toyota Hilux black pick-up vehicle with plate number KDS 944 is registered under the name of Eduardo Dayondon of Bagawian Tacina, Zamboanga del Sur.
All the vehicles used by the suspects were registered in Zamboanga del Sur.
Dela Paz said the robbers arrived at their rented safehouse last February 27, Monday, and left around 8:30 a.m. of March 2 and proceeded to Ceneco to stage the robbery hold up.
Mayor lauds police
Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia lauded the police for the developments in the case.
"We would like to thank the police for the quick response. I went there personally to see it for myself and I saw the trace of the bullet fired by one of the robbers. I also talked to Colonel Ricardo dela Paz, Atty. Arnel Lapore, president of Ceneco and others. Since then, we have been in touch frequently and consistently with Colonel Dela Paz," said Leonardia.
"Considering that there are certain matters which for obvious reasons are supposed to be kept under wraps. I would even prefer that, in as much as in a level of police discretion, I will give it to Col. Dela Paz on which of this information can be shared to the public," he added.
He assured that the police are trying their best to resolve the case at the soonest possible time.
“I consider this as an isolated case but, at the same time, this will tell us and remind us that something like this can still happen," he warned.