January 5, 2024
OZAMIZ CITY — At least P35 million in cash and jewelry was lost in a daring robbery operation straight out of the Netflix series “Money Heist.”
According to Maj. Dennis Tano, acting city police chief here, the robbery was discovered by personnel of the local mall at 11:45 a.m. on Monday as they were preparing to open at noon.
A hole was dug beneath the tiled concrete floor of the mall’s food court through which the robbers entered the establishment and escaped with their haul of stolen goods.
On Wednesday, police filed cases of robbery against five suspects who were arrested in a follow-up operation.
Based on the complaint sent by the police to the city prosecutor’s office, the robbers carted away P29-million worth of jewelry and P1.7 million in cash from Oro Italia Fine Jewelry and P5 million worth of jewelry from GKC Jewelry Shop.
Oro Italia’s jewelry stock is estimated to have a sale value of up to P84 million. The robbers also took away a still undetermined amount of cash from an automated teller machine (ATM).
Tano said the hole on the mall’s floor led to a 5.5-meter long tunnel that connects to a drainage canal which the robbers used to hide their operation from the public.
Another tunnel runs from the drainage canal toward a private lot which was rented for a holiday carnival, where the robbers were thought to have staged the daring operation.
Tano said the robbery appeared to be well-planned given the method the robbers used.
While inside the mall, the robbers forcibly entered the jewelry shops and destroyed their vaults as well as the cash hold of the ATM.
Through a closed circuit television camera footage, police were able to identify and arrest the three robbers, all workers of the carnival. Two more, who were also workers of the carnival, were later arrested.
The suspects were identified as Alfred Baterna, 18; Francis Joles Baterna, 18; Albert Batolaso, 28; Bryan Montealto, 32; and Ramil Villarmente, 23. Tano said they included in the charge sheet several unidentified suspects because they believed there could be others involved in the robbery.