MANILA, Philippines–Thanks to the quick thinking of two bus drivers and a conductor, seven robbery suspects were arrested at a checkpoint, shortly after they held up a passenger bus on Edsa in Quezon City and tried to flee on another bus late Monday night, according to the police.
The seven men, who had divested some passengers of a Nicolas Albert bus of their valuables, apparently fumbled when they boarded another bus of the same firm, whose driver and conductor alerted policemen waiting at a checkpoint ahead.
Operatives of the Masambong police station blocked the fleeing thieves near a police precinct in Sitio San Roque along Edsa at around 10:30 p.m. last Monday.
Senior Superintendent Richard Albano, Quezon City Police District director, commended the driver and conductor of the second Nicolas Albert bus, which the robbers used in their escape.
“We praise them for the presence of mind in such a situation. They were able to alert and cooperate our policemen to the presence of the robbers aboard their bus,” the official said Tuesday.
Albano said they are also looking for the driver of the first bus that the robbers boarded to commend him for bringing the passengers to the nearest police outpost for help immediately after the robbery.
The seven arrested men, all of Quezon City, were identified as: Jerry Lopez, 42; Arsenio Dapat, 34; Nelson Albia, 33; Raymond Pardo, 29, Bernabe Aceo, 32; Randy Matas, 28; and Jeffrey Almonte, 19.
Police believe that the men are part of a robbery group victimizing buses plying Commonwealth Avenue and Edsa.
The seven were arrested while on board the Nicolas Albert bus driven by Ismael Sambuto with his conductor, Ronald Jamawan, who discreetly informed the policemen about the robbers.
Superintendent Pedro Sanchez, Masambong police station commander, citing witness accounts, said the men, armed with knives, boarded a Nicolas Albert bus plying the northbound lane of Edsa near the Centris Mall Monday night.
The robbers declared the heist and began seizing the passengers’ valuables then got off near the Manila Seedling Bank at the next bus corner, just a stone’s throw from where they boarded.
Before fleeing, the suspects reportedly ordered the still unidentified driver of the first bus to drive straight to SM North EDSA mall, but the driver sped instead toward the Kilyawan police precinct, which is under the Masambong police station.
The driver dropped off the passengers at the precinct, where Sanchez happened to be having a meeting with his men.
The passengers told the police they saw the seven suspects board another Nicolas Albert bus behind them, prompting operatives to set up a checkpoint to intercept the vehicle.
The policemen checked each bus passing by the Kilyawan precinct until they sighted the second bus, whose driver and conductor let the policemen hop aboard.
Albano said Sambuto and Jamawan signaled to policemen the presence of the seven suspicious looking men who had boarded the bus, leading to the arrest.
Recovered from the suspects were four fan knives, as well as the items –cash worth P15,000, seven cellular phones, a digital camera, and four wristwatches–allegedly stolen from Ramvel Bueza, Robert Aranzado, Bonijun Numangiao, and Nhordick Basilan.
Police also learned that Matas and Aceo were arrested in July 2005 for a bus robbery but they got out on bail.