To avert any more robberies in over 500 banks and pawnshops in Manila, Mayor Isko Moreno will ask the City Council to pass an ordinance which seeks to ban the wearing of caps, sunglasses and face masks while entering these establishments.
Speaking at a news conference Friday afternoon, Moreno assured Manila residents that the protection of all financing establishments in the city is one of the primordial concerns of the city government.
Moreno said with the implementation of the ordinance, anything that covers the face or hides the identity of a person would be prohibited.
“Those entering banks or pawnshops should remove these materials that can conceal the identity of a person,” Moreno said.
The Manila mayor underscored the need for an ordinance to exact punishment on violators. He said this would also ensure that people entering the bank and bank personnel would strictly adhere to it.
“The closure of a bank can be made a punishment in case of violation,” Moreno as he put up a P1-million bounty for information that would lead to the arrest of the suspects.
According to Manila Police District chief Police Colonel Vicente Danao, Metrobank’s Binondo branch was held up by five to seven unidentified suspects shortly before it opened Thursday.
Danao said the suspects were wearing security guard uniforms while another was garbed in a Grab uniform.
He added that the suspects tied down the bank’s security guards, tellers as well as other employees.
But Danao was surprised upon learning that the police were only allowed to enter the bank two hours after they arrived in the area because the branch head supposedly stopped them.
This led Moreno to lament the uncooperative stance of the bank’s personnel.
The mayor also questioned the action of the bank’s chief security who said he was a former cop, for preventing responding policemen to enter the bank premises.
Moreno said the bank security chief, whom he did not identify, even invoked a Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas circular in barring the policemen in the said establishment to conduct an investigation.
The responding policemen actually arrived in the bank premises two minutes after the incident but were only allowed entry after two hours following the arrival of the Manila mayor.
“No amount of rule, even BSP, can intervene in police operation or investigation. If you will not cooperate, especially we have doubts in our mind, kailangan ma-erase ang doubts ng policemen sa initial na impormasyon,” said
Asked on the possibility of an “inside job,” Moreno said Gen. Danao’s men are still investigating the incident.
However, he stressed that at the moment, everybody inside the bank at the time of the holdup is a suspect.
Although the suspects have remained unknown, Moreno said that based on initial investigation, they have an “operator” and the robbery was well-planned.
He pointed out that the movements of the suspects were precise from the moment they entered the bank until they casually walked away and boarded their get-away vehicles.
He reiterated his call to the suspects to yield to authorities if they love themselves.
Moreno also warned that those who will obstruct the probe can be held liable.
The police later presented the bank’s CCTV camera which recorded the time when suspects entered and left the bank. No other details were given by police
The police said they are still in the process of grilling all the bank employees who were inside the bank when the robbery occurred.
In a statement, Metrobank condemned the robbery as it also assured that none of its employees were harmed.
Authorities did not say how much cash was lost in the robbery.
As this developed, Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde shared Mayor Moreno’s suspicions, saying that Metrobank officials may face complaints for obstruction of justice.
Like Mayor Moreno, Albayalde said he was surprised that branch officers kept investigators from entering the premises following the incident.
“Technically, baka pwede kaming makapagfile ng obstruction of justice dito dahil marami din, totoo ‘yan sa mga bangko,” Albayalde said.
“Ito po ang isa sa nagiging problema natin, whether bangko ‘yan, malls o hotels... ang tagal bago papasukin ang ating mga investigators,” he added.
“With that delay baka ‘yun pa ang naging rason bakit di natin nahuli o naidentify ng mabilis ‘yung mga perpetrators,” Albayalde said.
Moreno has offered a P1-million reward for the capture of the robbers.