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Inside job? Armed gang takes P4M in Pasay hotel robbery

Guests victimized at the lobby
By: - Reporter / @dexcabalzaINQ
/ 06:30 AM January 03, 2018

A security camera footage recorded Tuesday’s robbery at Mabuhay Manor hotel, where the perpetrators didn’t bother to cover their faces. They were gone in five minutes after taking cash and valuables worth P4 million, police said. —Photo courtesy of Pasay police

PHOTO BY MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

Four men pulled off an armed robbery at a Pasay City hotel on Tuesday morning, fleeing with about P4 million in cash and valuables taken from guests they chanced upon at the lobby.

Police said the pistol wielding robbers declared a holdup and first tried to locate the hotel’s safe upon entering Mabuhay Manor on F.B. Harrison Street at 3:19 a.m. on Jan. 2.

Footage from the hotel’s security camera showed how they first disarmed Jho-an Jabagat, the only security guard posted at the entrance. They took his .38-caliber revolver before dragging him to the lobby.

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In a statement to the police, the hotel’s night auditor Rudy de Guzman said the gunmen — who appeared to be in their 20s and did not have anything covering their faces — found him at the cashier’s booth, dragged him out and ordered him to open the room where they thought the hotel’s safe was kept.

De Guzman refused and pointed them to two other rooms instead. When the robbers found the rooms empty, the auditor was punched in the face and his head was banged against the wall.

Unable to find the safe, the robbers turned to the guests who happened to be at the  lobby.

Held at gunpoint, Dominador Castro, a 57-year-old Filipino-American from California who was in the country for the holidays, was forced to hand over his Rolex watch, a gold necklace and a gold ring.

The robbers also took a Bulova watch, Versace eyeglasses, smartphones and cash from Castro’s three relatives, according to Senior Supt. Gene Licud, the Pasay assistant police chief for administration.

They also took P53,000 in cash from the hotel’s cashier, as well as the phones of some of the staff members on duty.

Spending less than five minutes at the hotel, the robbers were last seen escaping in a black Hyundai Starex van which waited for them on Ortigas Street.

Witnesses who saw the van heading toward Roxas Boulevard said its license plate had been covered with a piece of paper.

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Licud said the hotel had about 50 other guests, who were undisturbed in their rooms at the time of the robbery.

Investigators are looking at a possible “inside job,” he said, as the robbers apparently knew that the Mabuhay Manor management was unable to deposit the hotel’s earnings in the bank because of the holidays.

Licud also noted how Jabagat, the disarmed security guard from Blue Flame Security Agency, seemed “lax” that morning. “He wasn’t able to do anything when the robbers arrived. He was not that alert and thus unable to use his gun.”

Asked if the guard would also be investigated or be considered a person of interest, the police official initially said yes but pointed out that Jabagat had denied involvement in the robbery.

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