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Roxas suggests ordinance to ban hammers inside malls

(Updated 8:01 p.m.) Ban hammers, crowbars and other hardware materials inside malls.

This was the suggestion Interior Secretary Mar Roxas made Tuesday as one way to prevent another incident of jewelry robbery inside commercial establishments.

In an interview with GMA News, Roxas said the Philippine National Police earlier this year urged mall operators through a memorandum of understanding to require that any hardware tools purchased inside a mall must be claimed outside the establishment—to no avail.

But if it were an ordinance, said Roxas, the establishments would be required to implement it since it would have the force of law.

"Kung ordinansya ito para makakuha ng business permit or occupancy permit [ang mga mall] then may force and effect ang local legislation dito. Kailangan nilang sumunod,” Roxas noted.

He added that the ordinance would also require increasing the personnel doing real-time monitoring of CCTVs, and giving the security staff enough time to rest.

Last Sunday at SM North Edsa, robbers smashed jewelry display cases using hammers and crowbars they had bought inside the mall. The amount of pilfered jewelry is still unknown, while the suspects remain at large. 

The President himself, accompanied by Roxas, visited the crime scene in Quezon City hours after the incident.

“Walang kapangyarihan ang PNP na pwersahin… [ang] mga mall operators so nakakapagsuggest lang kami at sa kagandahang loob lang nila nasusunod ‘yung iba na suggestion,” Roxas said.

“Makikita natin na naulit muli so, tanong, bakit patuloy nilang binibigay sa loob ng mall, kasi hindi naman natin pwede na ipilit sa kanila,” he added.

Early this year, a jewelry store inside SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City was also robbed using the same modus operandi: the thieves used hammers to smash open display cases.

The authorities are looking into whether the same group organized both crimes.

Memorandum on hammers

The Mall Security Managers Association signed a memorandum of understanding with the PNP to require shoppers who bought tools like hammers to claim their purchases outside the mall, a previous "Saksi" report said.

The memorandum was signed in the aftermath of a January 2013 jewelry heist in SM Megamall by members of the Martilyo gang who used a purchased pipe wrench to break the display cases, the report said.

Roxas said the memorandum was not strictly implemented by mall operators.

"Nagkaroon ng pagpapatupad, pero hindi consistent. Medyo lumambot o humina ang pagpapatupad nito," he said in a press briefing according to a "24 Oras" report.

Quezon City Police District director superintendent Richard Albano deemed the memorandum too "ideal."

However, no security protocols were violated when the mall operators failed to implement the memorandum as they were not obliged to follow PNP's recommendations, according to the report.

Audit guard deployment

PNP chief director general Alan Purisima said the PNP's Supervisory Office for Security and Investigation Agencies is also investigating whether there were lapses on the part of SM North's security guards.

Roxas also noted that the authorities might check the deployment of the security guards inside mall premises.

“Aalamin lang natin kung ano ‘yung deployment ng mga security guard,” he said. “Ito ‘yung mga i-au-audit natin—ang mga malls at ang kanilang security arrangement para makita kung matibay o malakas ba ito [security].”

“Baka nasa pintuan lang, wala sa loob [‘yung security guard]… Ilang beses umiikot ang mga gwardiyang ‘yan? Baka naman ‘yung guard na ‘yan ay nasa papel lang, tulog, o kaya ay kumakain sa food court,” he quipped.

The PNP has cancelled the leaves of absence of its staff to ensure peace and security during the Christmas season, according to the "24 Oras" report. — with a report by Marc Jayson Cayabyab/BM, GMA News