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‘Hold up me’ angle in LBC heists surfaces

By NITZ ARANCON
Correspondent .

CITY hall officials yesterday confronted the regional manager of LBC Express Inc. with questions about the courier firm’s insurance policy and underwriter even as they questioned the company’s seeming lack of interest in securing its branches in the city despite a string of robberies.

Councilor George Goking, chairman of the city council’s trade and commerce committee, said the “hold up me” angle begun to take shape after lawyer Jose Edgardo Uy raised a serious question about LBC’s type of insurance coverage and its insurer.

Uy, who sits in the trade committee because he co-chairs the city’s price coordinating council, said the LBC manager for northern Mindanao, Jacinto Bernados, was unaware of any LBC insurance policy except one on property.

Goking said the question on LBC’s insurance policy was raised after officials noted that the courier firm lacked interest in filing cases against any suspect.

He said officials also noted that LBC has been “uncooperative” to the police, and never bothered to contract the services of guards despite being repeatedly robbed.

“That’s very unusual,” said Goking. “And that is why there are now suspicions.”

Police said four LBC branches in Cagayan de Oro and in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental, were robbed in less than three months — first in Sept. 16 at Yacapin-Pabayo streets, second in Sept. 23 on Max Suniel Street in Carmen, third in Tagoloan in Oct. 6, and the last one on Sunday, Nov. 4, on Velez-Neri streets.

LBC, according to the police, lost at least half a million pesos in the robberies since September.

Officials said it was unusual because there seemed to have been no effort on the part of LBC to step up security measures despite the series of robberies and its losses.

Uy said the joint committees on trade, and police and public safety also learned that the LBC branch that was robbed on Sunday had a security camera that focused only on the activities of its staff.

Supt. Joram Jomalon, chief of the city police’s intelligence branch, told the committees there was no CCTV camera outside the LBC branch on Velez-Neri streets. He confirmed that the only CCTV camera was installed inside the office and was intended only to monitor the LBC workers.

Councilor Romeo Calizo, chairman of the city council’s police and public safety committee, said the local legislature would need to amend an ordinance on the installation of CCTV cameras by commercial establishments in the city.

The two city council committees approved a resolution to urge LBC to “level up” the security  measures in all its branches in the city.

Bernados said LBC would comply if that is what city hall wants the firm to do.

“Wala mi mahimo kay that’s part of the security being implemented by the city for crime prevention,” Bernados said.

But he said LBC has already put in place its own internal security measures but admitted that the firm has not contracted the services of guards.

“Kon duha sa among mga mga empleyado ang  mag-duty, ang akong instruction usa kanila ang mogawas ug iyang tan-awon kon duna bay mga suspicious-looking sa palibot,” Bernados told the committees.

Bernados said he could not say why LBC was not keen on hiring guards, adding it was a top management decision.

“Wala sa akong level ang pag-decide sa pag-employ sa security guard kay normal man na sa bisan unsa nga negosyo kami mag-agad pud mi sa  among pinakata-as,” he said. (with reports from Herbie Gomez)

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