Ceres robbers ‘knew exactly where to go’

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE robbery of the remittance office of a bus line operator in Jaro, Iloilo City Monday evening might be an “inside job,” investigators said.

A group of 10-12 armed suspects carted away some P300,000 cash from the office of Vallacar Transit, operator of Ceres Bus Liner, at Brgy. Buhang, Jaro past 7 pm the other day.

Employees of the bus company said the suspects were on board a white Starex van and wielded M16 Armalite rifles, Uzi submachine gun and pistols.  

The van entered the Vallacar compound with ease as the gate was open while some of the guards on duty were having dinner.

Based on the accounts of Analou Fernandez, Vallacar supervisor, three suspects went inside the main office and hauled the money from the cashier. One of the suspects was disguised as a uniformed bus conductor.  The other robbers neutralized the security guards and served as lookout in and out of the compound.

The suspects also tried to forcibly open the safety vault containing P200,000 cash by shooting the lock with a 12-gauge shotgun but they failed.   

The remittance office is fashioned out of old Ceres buses, the same place where a former conductor held hostage several employees two months ago.

Apparently, the suspects struck at the time when Ceres bus conductors have just remitted their collections for the day. Some of the robbers wore ball caps while others donned masks.

Aside from the collection money, the suspects also took away the personal belongings and cash of Vallacar employees and the firearms of the four security guards on duty.

Fernandez said the suspects moved in a swift and organized manner knowing exactly where to go. The heist was over in more or less five minutes.

The suspects fled towards the municipality of Leganes. The ICPO asked help from the Iloilo Provincial Police Office to set up checkpoints in adjacent towns but they failed to net the suspects.

C/Insp. Orly Gabinete, Jaro police chief, said the suspects may have inside information on where the money was kept and when to strike.

“The suspects are certainly professionals. They moved quickly and knew where to go,” Gabinete said.

S/Supt. Melvin Moncal, ICPO director, ordered the deployment of the Special Weapons and Tactics team around the city following the heist.