CEBU CITY -- Even in handcuffs, alleged pickpocket Felix Cañete grabbed the collar of PO1 Roy Ceniza and pulled him inside the police patrol car, after seeing a robber aim his gun at the officer.
"I dragged him so he won't get hit. I pitied him," said the 52-year-old Cañete, who has three children with his estranged wife.
"He was on the brink of death, and I saved him because like me, he has a family," he said Monday in Cebuano.
Ceniza was hit in the right foot, while his companion PO1 Elrich Jourdin Catacutan was hit in the chest near the right armpit.
Both officers and PO1 Ernesto Silva fought four men who robbed China Bank personnel and security outside the supermarket of the Robinsons Mall on Osmeña Blvd. in Cebu City Monday morning.
The two policemen belong to the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) Mobile Patrol Group (MPG).
Cañete and Silva were not hurt.
However, two security guards were killed in the shootout.
Firearms, Explosives, Security Agencies and Guard Supervision Section Chief Rex Derilo told Sun.Star Cebu that slain security guards Leofer Etac and Lito Odac will each be given a Medal of Honor.
"They will be recognized for their works. It will be realized as soon as possible," he said.
Following the shootout, the floor and the seats in the back of MPG car 018 that Cañete was riding were stained with blood, its right headlight hit by a bullet.
"It's alright with me if I'm the one who got hit," said Cañete, who was convicted of frustrated homicide in 1976, freed 12 years later, but returned to Muntinlupa in 2000.
Silva, the patrol car driver, said they fetched Cañete from Carbon Police Station before the encounter happened at past 9 a.m.
They went to the Cebu City Medical Center for the suspect's medical checkup. Afterwards, Cañete asked them for breakfast while they were traveling along Osmeña Blvd. They stopped by an eatery near the mall.
Last Friday afternoon, Silva and Catacutan arrested Cañete, who allegedly stole Juliet Largo's pouch, which contained P600 cash, a comb, and lipstick. The suspect was charged the next day with theft before the Cebu City Prosecutor's Office.
Since the inquest proceeding ended late in the afternoon, Silva said they were not able to commit Cañete to the Cebu City Jail in Barangay Kalunasan. They finished their business Monday.
As they headed toward the Palace of Justice in the Capitol grounds, Silva said they heard gunfire near the mall, not far from the Fuente Police Station.
"Nimenor mi. Among gitan-aw unsay nahitabo (We slowed down and checked what happened)," he said.
The police officer said that after he saw the parked armored vehicles, by instinct, he realized a robbery was taking place.
"Paghunong nako nibuto-buto dayon (When I stopped, there was gunfire)," he said. "Gipabuthan mi (They shot at us)."
Silva said they went out of the vehicle and shot exchanged gunfire with the robbers. During the crossfire, Ceniza and Catacutan, who were on the vehicle's right side, were hit.
Silva said they were having difficulty in fighting the robbers because civilians were scrambling from different directions.
Cañete said he crouched in the backseat and prayed he won't get hit.
Silva then flashed a radio message, informing all police units about the robbery.
SPO1 Marvin Insong, who was on board MPG car 016 with SPO1 Christopher Mercaral and PO2 Roger Pogoy, said they immediately responded because they were on B. Rodriguez Ave., which is near the crime scene.
They chased the two robbers on board a motorcycle along F. Ramos St. The robbers made a left turn to V. Ranudo St. and went to Rahmann St.
When the robbers went back to V. Ranudo St., they were trapped by the police. A gun battle ensued near Casino Español while a downpour occurred.
Insong said people helped in pointing out where the robbers went.
Meanwhile, Silva and Insong brought Cañete on board MPG car 018 to the city jail. (Sun.Star Cebu)
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