4 bank guards fight off 20 robbers

Posted by Posted by RØN™ On Sunday, May 31, 2009

MANILA, Philippines - At least 20 heavily armed robbers wearing police and military uniforms tried to rob a Union Bank branch in Caloocan City at around noon yesterday but fled empty-handed when four of the bank’s security guards engaged the suspects in a gunbattle.

Caloocan City police chief Senior Superintendent Jude Santos said that apart from a shotgun and a .38 caliber revolver of security guard Camus Briccio Jr., the armed men “got nothing from the bank.”

Santos said at least 20 men armed with M14 and M16 rifles and .45 caliber pistols barged into the Union Bank branch at the corner of Urbano Plata street and EDSA using the back door, guarded by Briccio.

“The suspects looked more like Army troopers and they entered the bank with blazing guns,” Santos told The STAR, adding that most of the gunmen used bulletproof vests, with some wearing military paint on their faces and others wearing bonnets.

Santos said the bank was closed because it was a Saturday, “but they seemed to know that a large sum was inside,” adding that the branch is the “cash center and the main depository of all Union Bank branches in Caloocan and Quezon City.”

Santos said the bank’s main vault could not easily be forced open because “it has three layers of safety locks.”

Some of the suspects disarmed Briccio of his shotgun and revolver while the others went to the second floor of the building, where the cash center and the main vault are located.

But the armed men were surprised when four security guards at the second floor of the building engaged the suspects in a gunbattle.

“The suspects… left after around 10 minutes of (firing shots) without them gaining ground,” Santos said. None of the bank’s guards were hurt as they positioned themselves behind the walls.

As the suspects fled on board three vehicles toward Quezon City, they stopped to rob a nearby adjacent Caltex gas station and disarmed its lone security guard of his .38 caliber revolver.

Witnesses told the police two of the getaway vehicles were Toyota Revos, one white and the other blue, but none of them was able to jot down the vehicles’ license plates. The third vehicle’s type was undetermined.

“I suspect they were members of the notorious Alvin Flores rob gang because of their modus operandi… They are now more daring and they grew in number,” Santos said.

He said that it was also the first time that the suspects used an M14 rifle in their operation. Police recovered shells for M14 and M16 rifles and for .45 caliber pistol at the crime scene.

Northern Police District director Chief Superintendent Samuel Pagdilao Jr., who was conducting a safety seminar for the NPD reporters at the police station during the botched rob try, directed Santos to dig deeper into the case.

- By Pete Laude (Philstar News Service, www.philstar.com)

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