'Ben Panday Group' tagged in SM jewelry heist

Posted at 01/29/2013 10:27 PM | Updated as of 01/29/2013 10:27 PM

MANILA – Police have tagged the "Ben Panday" robbery group in the weekend heist at a jewelry store inside SM Megamall in Mandaluyong.

The gang is also allegedly responsible for the Ongpin robbery in 2011 and a similar heist at SM Bicutan lat year.

The suspected leader of the gang, 24-year-old Ben Panday, is from North Cotabato.

He is seen on CCTV footage smashing the store's display cases.

Police have also identified the gunman as Marc Calama, also 24 years old and a former security guard.

“’Yung gunman, ‘yung naka-salamin. Nu’ng nasa loob na siya, tinanggal niya ‘yung salamin tapos bumunot na siya,” said Manadaluyong Police chief Sr. Supt. Florendo Quibuyen.

Another suspect is 31-year-old Abubakar Abdul Kader, also a former security guard from Maguindanao.

On Tuesday, representatives of the mall's four security agencies appeared in the investigation conducted by the Philippine National Police (PNP).

"The purpose why they are invited here ay para maimbestigahan sila at malaman ‘yung nangyari, and to determine their lapses sa security measures," said Sr. Supt. Buenaventura Viray, deputy chief of PNP-Supervisory Office for Security and Investigation Agencies.

As the manhunt for the suspects continues from Metro Manila all the way to Mindanao, police conducted inspections in other malls to make sure strict security measures are in place.

"Dapat ‘yung metal detector hindi lang sa katawan ninyo itinatapat, pati sa tapat ng kaselanan hanggang sa paa. Huwag kayo mahihiya para masigurado natin…’Yung bag dapat ganito, pagkasilip niyo sa loob itaas niyo at pisilin niyo ‘yung ilalim. Malalaman niyo kung may baril o wala,” said Quezon City Police District chief Sr. Supt. Richard Albano.

Police also visited jewelry stores to provide some pointers to security guards.

“Kung may pag-atake dito sa jewelry store dapat ‘yung guwardiya on duty, i-radyo agad at i-secure nila lahat ng exit,” said Albano.

The PNP also gave some important reminders to the public.

"Dapat po presence of mind tsaka huwag magpa-panic," said PNP spokesperson Supt. Generoso Cerbo. -- ANC