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RCBC manager is bank massacre’s 10th victim

By Thea Alberto, Nikko Dizon, DJ Yap, Niña Catherine Calleja
INQUIRER.net, Southern Luzon Bureau, Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:40:00 05/19/2008

Filed Under: Robbery, theft

CALAMBA CITY?A bank manager who could have provided police with information on the robbers behind the massacre of nine people in the Cabuyao, Laguna, branch of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) died Sunday from his head wound at a hospital.

Isagani Pastor, a manager at the RCBC branch, had been in critical condition for two days following one of the bloodiest bank robberies in the country?s history that had left nine people dead.

The attack appalled Malacañang, the banking community and the public.

Pastor?s death coincided with the announcement of Philippine National Police Director General Avelino Razon Jr. that he had relieved Supt. Moises Pagaduan as police chief of Cabuyao.

Pagaduan has been reassigned to the headquarters of Police Regional Office 4A here, a PNP statement said.

Senior Supt. Felipe Rojas Jr., Laguna police director, said the investigation would continue without Pastor. ?There is no perfect crime. Surely, we will find some leads,? he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer (parent company of INQUIRER.net).

"We will check Pagaduan's actions before and after the robbery and killing occurred," he said.

Whatever Pastor knew about the murderous rampage at the bank would go with him to the grave. He was declared dead by doctors at St. James Hospital in Laguna at around 10:30 a.m. on Sunday.

For his widow, Loreta Chaloy Pastor, her 55-year-old husband?s death was his way of protecting his family from harm.

?If he lived to tell what he knew, his family would have been at risk. Maybe this was his way of protecting us,? Loreta said in an interview at La Funeraria Paz in Parañaque City.

Pastor had been shot in the temple.

Loreta said Pastor never got the chance to talk to anyone in the last hours of his life.

?We couldn?t talk to him at all. His eyes were closed the whole time,? she said.

The waiting was agony, their third child, 19-year-old Francis Patrick said.

On Thursday, Pastor will be cremated at the funeral home per his wish, his widow told the Inquirer.

Their daughter, 26-year-old Lesley Anne, said Pastor did not want his family to have to spend for a memorial lot.

Loreta, who also once held a position at Bank of the Philippine Islands, said her husband?s job as ?relationship manager for corporate banking? of the Cabuyao branch often caused her distress because of the possibility of a robbery.

?We always told him: ?Don?t fight if the bank gets robbed. It?s not your money anyway.? He?d reply: ?Of course, of course,?? she said.

There was still no official word on how much money the robbers stole. But television news reports quoting bank officials said the amount could have been between P12 million and P15 million.

Pastor may have been a witness to the killing of his eight co-employees and one client.

Also killed were branch manager Roberto Panganiban Castro, tellers Benjamin Nicdao and Olga Gonzalez, operations assistant Noel Miranda, new accounts officer Teresa Umayam, cashier service head Bernardo Lapaan Jr., security guard Baltazar Aguilando, and a depositor?s representative, Ferdinand Antonio.

2 more witnesses

Each of the victims suffered a single bullet wound in the head, police said.

Rojas said the police were confident the grisly crime would be solved in time. He said the police had two other witnesses whose identities could not be disclosed for now.

One was a female coworker of Antonio?s, who saw the victim enter the bank and being approached by a man wearing a black jacket, according to police.

The witness was waiting for Antonio to return but when she sensed that something bad was happening inside, she hurriedly left.

Antonio worked at Ivoclar Vivadent Inc. inside the Laguna Industry and Science Park, Rojas said.

Another witness saw the driver of the getaway vehicle supposedly used by the robbers.

Sketches prepared

Asked if the witnesses clearly remembered the faces of the gunmen, Rojas said: ?Their descriptions were not clear.? But he said police were now completing artist?s sketches of the suspects.

Police previously said five to six gunmen had gained access to the bank through the back door and waited for the bank employees to arrive. They destroyed the bank?s security cameras and alarms.

Some hours after the bodies were found, police recovered a gray Nissan van owned by a slain bank employee which was abandoned in Barangay Turbina here.

Chief Supt. Ricardo I. Padilla, Calabarzon police director, said the police would not stop hunting the killers. ?With the help of other witnesses, we can easily identify and catch [those] criminals,? he said.

P2-M reward

The reward for those who give information that would lead to the killers? arrest has been raised to P2 million. Of the amount, P1 million came from RCBC, P100,000 from Sen. Ramon ?Bong? Revilla Jr., P100,000 from Gov. Teresita Lazaro and P800,000 from friends and relatives of the victims.

Pagaduan will be replaced by Chief Insp. Wenceslao Anore as officer in charge of the Cabuyao police.

The relief was a result of the PNP?s ?one strike policy? on bank robberies, PNP spokesperson Chief Supt. Nicanor Bartolome told the Inquirer.

?If there is a bank robbery in his area of responsibility, the police chief will be relieved for failing to prevent it from happening,? he said.

He said a successful bank robbery mirrored a police chief?s ?failure to strengthen the security in the area within the bank.?

Positive leads

Razon was confident that the investigation ?will reach a significant breakthrough very soon? following an assessment of ?some positive leads and evidence.?

Razon ordered the regional directors to re-implement the security clustering system in areas with bank branches and other commercial establishments.

?Under the security clustering system, a police team under a supervisor will be assigned to provide security in these clustered areas,? he said.

Razon instructed the police directors to provide all available assistance to the Calabarzon police in the manhunt for the killers.

Daytime checkpoints

Police unit commanders were ordered to establish checkpoints even during daytime, especially during banking hours.

?Chiefs of police were ordered to come out of their offices and personally lead these operations,? the PNP statement said.

?It is not enough that police personnel are downloaded from the headquarters to the police stations, they must also be properly deployed and supervised,? Razon said.

Bartolome said the measures being carried out by the police to prevent another bank robbery included a more aggressive implementation of the ?no plate, no travel? policy.

The PNP will implement a crackdown on illegal transfer of car plates, use of unauthorized commemorative and vanity plates, and unregistered vehicles.

Investigators noted that the vehicle used by the killers in the RCBC robbery did not have license plates.

On Monday morning, the PNP will also hold a meeting with the Joint Anti-Bank Robbery Council (JABRAC) and the Bank Security Management Association (BSMA) to discuss bank security.



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