UP prof seized by robbery gang on campus thought of Davantes
A University of the Philippines (UP) professor was literally taken for a ride in her own car the other day by robbers who took her by surprise as she was opening the door to her vehicle at the parking lot of the Diliman campus in Quezon City.
All throughout her nearly 45-minute ordeal which she spent lying in the back seat —her hands and feet tied, a hood placed over her head and a gag over her mouth— Prof. Perlita Frago said she was reminded of advertising exec Kristelle “Kae” Davantes.
“I was afraid they would kill me even if they got what they wanted from me. I thought, this is what may have happened to Davantes,” the 43-year-old political science professor said.
Davantes was opening the gate to her family’s house in Las Piñas City on Sept. 7 when she was abducted by several men who pushed her inside her car.
She was stabbed and strangled and her body dumped hours later under a bridge in Silang, Cavite, while her car was recovered after a week at a subdivision in Las Piñas. Five suspects were later arrested and charged with her killing which, according to the police, was robbery-related.
In a phone interview, Frago said the robbers made off with her watch, wedding ring, iPhone, driver’s license and an ATM card from which they withdrew P29,000.
Frago said her ordeal started at the parking lot in front of Palma Hall at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday. At that time, there were no security guards and only a few cars were parked as the semester had already ended.
In broad daylight
“I never thought that it would happen in such a public place and in broad daylight. There were joggers passing by the parking lot and it wasn’t even dark yet,” she recalled.
According to Frago, when she went to her car, she spotted a young boy standing nearby. She thought that he was going to ask her for money but he did not approach her and a man alighted from a sport utility vehicle to talk to him.
She said she was just about to get into the driver’s seat when three to four men pushed her into the back seat. She added that she tried to resist and call the attention of other people by reaching for the car horn but her captors overpowered her.
“Don’t shout, we will not hurt you. All we want is your money,” they told her as someone started the engine. She said she heard at least two voices as she was being driven around and while the robbers were going through her two bags and other belongings.
Frago added that her captors found it incredible that she was not carrying a laptop computer or a big sum of money so they made her give them the PIN to her ATM card. She said she immediately complied in the hopes that they would not hurt her. She would later find bruises on her shoulders in addition to a concussion from being pushed too hard.
“We stopped twice; I think they were looking for a bank. They were able to withdraw P29,000 from my account,” Frago said.
Leave term papers alone
She made one request though which the robbers readily complied with: to leave untouched the term papers submitted by her students as the deadline for the submission of grades was coming up next week.
Frago said that after taking P29,000 from her ATM account, her captors asked her if she would be able to get home from either Cavite or Tagaytay. However, they later changed their mind and told her they would be dropping her off somewhere on the UP Diliman campus.
She added that as they got out of her car, they warned her not to shout or look up, saying they would shoot her and lob a grenade at her car.
They also warned her against going to the police unless she wanted them to go after her family since they now knew where she lived.
Frago recalled that when she finally opened her eyes, it was 5:11 p.m. based on the clock inside her car. She also realized that she was back at the parking lot where the whole thing started.
Although her captors left her hands and feet cuffed, she managed to free her right foot. She said she initially thought about driving home with her hands tied but when she found out she could not manage, she drove to the nearby faculty center.
According to her, the security guard on duty greeted her when she approached him in her car. “But he didn’t notice my handcuffs so I showed my hands and said I was robbed.”
University policemen arrived after 10 minutes followed by members of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) from the Anonas police station.
“I hope other female drivers, especially students, will learn from what happened [to me]. It was an experience that I don’t want others to go through,” Frago said.
Earlier this year, the QCPD donated several bikes to university watchmen for their patrols around the 493-hectare campus. This was after a pillbox exploded on the campus in January, injuring two maintenance men who were installing streetlights.
The QCPD has also lent one of its police cars to the UP police which is now using it for its regular patrols.
Members of the Philippine National Police are not allowed to conduct patrols on the campus due to a 1970s agreement which bars them from the university.
Instead, UP has a 40-man police force in charge of peace and order, backed up by 100 security guards and watchmen.
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