Alabang mall rob try leaves 1 dead, 7 hurt
A shoot-out at Alabang Town Center and an explosion at a neighboring bank in Muntinlupa City left one of the attackers dead and seven other people wounded on Friday in the second robbery attempt to rock the commercial area this year.
Just like the first, yesterday’s assault targeted the arrival of a cash delivery for a foreign exchange shop inside the establishment.
Citing this recurrence, the Philippine National Police high command relieved Muntinlupa police chief Senior Supt. Ramiro Bausa of his post pending an investigation into the latter’s “possible lapses.”
The upscale mall had just opened for the day when four to five armed men shot it out with security guards at the driveway near the Madrigal Avenue entrance at around 10:20 a.m., police said.
One of the armed men, identified as Pepito Paler, was killed with a bullet to the head from Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) security guard Robert Badol of Linggos security agency.
Two mall guards, Lope Bacomo and Alexander Zablada of Safeguard security agency, sustained bullet wounds and were later declared in stable condition at Alabang Medical Center.
Speaking to reporters, Muntinlupa Mayor Aldrin San Pedro said the armed men appeared to have been waiting for a cash delivery to a branch of Czarina Foreign Exchange inside the mall.
He noted that the shoot-out began right after a man carrying a duffel bag got out of an armored van on the driveway.
San Pedro said that while Paler and the other assailants were engaging the guards, one of the robbers lobbed a grenade—which did not explode—and was seen picking up the bag dropped by the delivery man as he ran to safety. The robbers then fled on motorcycles.
Bausa said the money changer shop had yet to report if indeed money was taken. The city police chief spoke to reporters hours before he was ordered relieved by PNP chief Director General Nicanor Bartolome.
While the gunfight was ongoing, an explosion rocked a branch of Sterling Bank of Asia at Molito Compound on Commerce Avenue, a short walk from the mall.
At least five people at the bank were reported injured by glass fragments and brought to Asian Hospital and Medical Center.
Investigators believe the explosion was a diversionary tactic used by cohorts of the group who attacked the mall, since the bank itself was not robbed.
Bausa said his men were looking at the Ozamis robbery group as suspects in the two robbery attempts staged at the mall this year.
In February, a similar incident at Alabang Town Center killed a security guard and one of the robbers and wounded another guard.
The guards were then unloading cash, also meant for a Czarina branch, at the Alabang-Zapote entrance when four men started firing at them. Repulsed and with a partner shot, the three other attackers fled on motorbikes.
San Pedro admitted that the area had become a magnet for criminal gangs since there are “almost 60 financial institutions along Madrigal Avenue and Filinvest Alabang” alone.
“There is big money circulating here. We had been requesting augmentation [police] personnel to patrol the area,” he said. With a report from Philip Tubeza
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